(Im stocking a shelf. I notice a customer with her five-year-old daughter. They both look like theyve been through a hard time.)
Little Girl: Mama, Im hungry.
(The mother looks near tears.)
Mother: I know baby; Im sorry.
Mommy only has $5, so we have to find food that will stretch until next week when mommy gets paid.
Little Girl: Okay.
(I see a another customer with a baby in a cart walk up to the woman.)
Another Customer: Excuse me, I couldnt help but overhear you. I dont mean to put you on the spot, but Id like to help you.
(The other customer holds out a $20 bill. The mother starts to cry.)
Mother: You dont even know me, and youre trying to help me. My husband walked out. I work a minimum wage job, and its just been so hard. Youre the first person who has shown me such kindness in a long time, and youre a stranger to me.
Another Customer: Im someone who thinks the world would work a bit better if people paid it forward a little more.
I might not know you, but I know youve been dealt a bad hand. Whens the last time you ate? Im sure youre making sure your daughter eats, but whens the last time you did?
Mother: How did you
Another Customer: Because youre a mother
Mother: I thank you so much! This will really help.
Are you sure?
Another Customer: Im positive. You know you can get some of the stuff here 2 for 1, so that can help.
Mother: Thank you thank you so much! Ill find a way to pay you back.
Another Customer: Theres no need to do that. I hope things get better for you, and when they do, you can pay it forward.
Mother: Thank you so much.
(Im called to the front, so I dont see the rest of the exchange.
The mother and daughter come through my lane with a cart full of food.)
Little Girl: Mommy, was that lady an angel?
Mother: Yes baby, she was.
(Their total comes to just under the 25 dollars the mother had. I relate the story to my manager. When the other customer comes up with her daughter, my manager has a gift card for $20 waiting for her. That customer comes in every month or so, and we all refer to her as the angel.)
The human spirit will never be crushed.