Friday, January 4, 2013

A Little Kindness

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

Along with a few more pictures from this week's New Year's Brunch, I wanted to share the story of a little kindness I witnessed last night.

It was just after 5 o'clock when the girls and I dashed into the grocery store. I normally avoid buying groceries during rush-hour, but we had a window of time during Christian's basketball practice and decided to hurry in for milk and a few other staples.

We filled the cart quickly and headed to the front of the store. Despite the hour, at first glance it looked like only the self-checkout lanes were open. Quite a few customers had clustered at the self-checkout, so the girls and I passed those lanes in search of a cashier. We found one cashier, but she had turned her light off, so it looked like she was closing her lane. A couple of aisles down, we noticed a newly-lit lane, so headed that direction.

When we reached the lane, we were surprised to find a single buggy but no one in sight. As we were about to back out, a petite silver-haired lady passed us. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said with a friendly smile. "They said someone would be here in a minute."

I checked the time, a little worried that we would not be able to check out before we needed to head back to Christian's practice. It didn't look like the other lanes were moving quickly, though, so I decided we would stay put.

Moments later, a cashier hurried to the register. The pretty teenager looked a little frazzled as she keyed her code into the register, but she brightened when she noticed the woman who was ready to check out. "Oh, it's you!" she said with delight. "I was hoping you would come through my lane." I assumed the two were friends until their conversation continued.

"We always love for the 'candy bar lady' to come through our lanes," the cashier continued as she scanned a king-size Snickers Bar. "The other day I was so hungry; I was really wishing you would come through."

Soft crinkles framed the customer's bright eyes as she chuckled. "Oh, how nice that you thought of me. I hope you like this kind. Usually I ask, but since you weren't here I chose one for you."

"Oh, yes, thank you," the cashier replied. As she scanned the woman's other groceries, the pair chatted like old friends.

When the cashier stepped away from the register for a moment, I couldn't resist inquiring about the silver-haired woman's tradition. "So do you buy the cashier a candy bar every time you shop?"

"Yes," she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. "I've been doing that for about 30 years now."

I was so touched by this woman's thoughtfulness. Cashiers work long hours, often dealing with grumpy, impatient customers. How refreshing it must be at the end of a long shift to meet a customer who realizes he or she might be tired, hungry or due for a break. Some days a smile, kind word and sweet treat from someone like the candy bar lady might be the best thing in an otherwise long and frustrating work day.

Colossians 3:12 reminds us, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." In such a small act of kindness, the candy bar lady demonstrated all of these attributes. May we all go forth determined to do the same -- sharing something sweet wherever we go.

Congratulations to Nancy Carr, who won last week's birthday necklace giveaway. Nancy plans to wear the necklace as a memento to her mother. Nancy, please e-mail me your contact information.

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day."  ~ Quoted in P.S. I Love You


Anonymous said...

Oh, Melissa! What a beautiful little story! I am inspired. I think I will make this my new practice this year. Thank you for sprinkling our days with grace and beauty through your blog. You make us better daughters of the Lord. Blessings!

Michelle in San Antonio

Melissa Lester said...

Thank you, Michelle. She inspired me, too!

Kelly (Seaux Southern) said...

What a beautiful gesture! I often here of stories where someone in a fast food drive through pays for the person in line behind him/her but to actually be able to see the gratitude in someones face or here the words "thank you" is a blessing for the giver too! Win/win!! Love that~~~

Becky W said...

What a beautiful story!! My friends and I have established 2013 as the year of acts of kindness. I will be doing this for sure!!!!

kr said...

What a lovely story! When God orchestrated you to be in line with this wonderful lady, He knew that her act of kindness was a seed that would be planted far and wide. Won't she be surprised when she enters heaven and realizes that her candy bars did more than bless a cashier; they encouraged others to follow her example.

I have in the past determined that I would compliment women on their appearance be it an outfit or hairstyle, etc. To see a woman's face brighten with a stranger's compliment, is really selfish on my part as it blesses me too. The world has taught us to compare and to compete with one another and this was my way of saying, "we women need to stick together and build each other up."

In my recent reading of the Bible, I came across this scripture: "So, then as opportunity offers, let us practice what is beneficial for everyone, but particularly toward the members of the family of faith." Even though we should continue to reach out to the unsaved, it is just as important to do random acts of kindness towards or brothers and sisters of the faith. That has become my new year's resolution.

Lea said...

Well, I just love that story and what an example for all of us! Thanks so much for sharing!

Valerie said...

This touched my heart. I'm doing this...tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

My late parents had a habit of sponsoring bright students from low income earning background...we used to have strange people at our house having a meal.We used to spend many hours at the orphanages...sponsoring their meals. This experience has taught me a lot about giving back to society when we have been blessed with so children's friends and the wonderful people that have crossed my path have been the lucky recipients of my handmade gifts and home baked cakes and cookies. I love giving away such items for it fills my heart with great joy when I give without any expecation!

Wishing you great joy, happiness and everything else that your heart desires.


Field of Poppies said...

Such a touching story~ This story reminds me of my Trackmate at school. She is known as the "Candy Teacher." Everyday after the bell rings, students from all grades rush to her room to choose one piece of candy from a special basket she has perched on a shelf. When she is absent, there are lots of long faces. This has become a tradition since our school opened 4 years ago.

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Anonymous said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing. Living in a small town, I try to get to know the checkers.

Wouldn't it be a great idea to print out some address labels with "Just a remind that God loves you," or something on them? You could keep them in your purse, then when you plan to gift a checker with a candy bar, stick one to the back so when she opens it, she'll have a nice surprise.

I'm going to have to try this!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story.... what a gracious lady! I've just shared your post with my husband and a dear friend and copied the verse into my devotional.

Think I'm going to give this a try, too.

Thank you! Theta

Jennifer Driver said...

Very sweet story!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Lovely story! You have inspired me too with this blog. So one lady across the ocean will hand out candy bars to cashiers too! ;-)
Kind regards, Mariel

Mimi said...

What a heartwarming tale. Thankyou. You've brightened my day and inspired a random act of kindness. When I go to the supermarket this evening, I'll do the same thing :)

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