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It Starts with a Square

Generosity at the Grocery Store

BY Regan Hewitt

It’s that time of the year when grocery store parking lots are packed at all hours of the day with eager shoppers trying to stock their pantries before the holidays. It was time for my weekly trip to Kroger to gather my family’s necessities and I finally gave in and took a parking spot mid-way, toward the back of the lot. 

The store was extremely busy with many people, including myself, on a mission to get what was ‘on the list’ and get out of there. I myself had to exchange a few ‘excuse me’s’ to get through the gathering of people around the milk and eggs. Cart packed to the brim, with a few more items that were not on the list (why do I keep breaking the cardinal rule of going to the grocery store hungry?!), I head toward the check-out line. 

I scan the lanes to find the shortest line that still had three people standing and waiting. Once I have over a certain number of items, I avoid self checkout. In front of me was a young woman, not much older than myself, with her two girls. One had braided pigtails coming loose from what I know had to have been a mixture of playing outside and laying down for a nap, and the other with a short bob haircut and a Frozen headband. The girls were eyeing the candy as they and their mother waited in line, still dressed in her work clothes.

I spoke to the little girl, saying I liked her headband, and that my little girl was also a big fan of Frozen. The girls shared with me how they couldn’t wait to see the new movie when it comes out on TV and who they liked better, Anna or Elsa. The mother smiled at her girls while she started unloading her basket onto the conveyor belt.

The older gentleman that was ahead of the girls only had a few items with him that I noticed, but he too spoke with the kids as his items were being scanned. He smiled and wished the cashier a Merry Christmas and turned back to the girls to wish them a Merry Christmas too and began to walk off with his groceries. The exchange made me smile and for a brief moment, I was thankful that this time of the year encourages us to slow down and recognize one another, even if we’re hurrying through the grocery store. 

Once I noticed the lady in front of me empty her cart, I start adding my items to the conveyor belt and overhear the cashier say, “The man in front of you left this for you.” I look up to see the cashier holding a $50 bill. The woman immediately puts her hand over her mouth in disbelief. She starts saying, “I can’t believe he would do that! Did you get his name? I didn’t know him. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe he did this!” It was a minute or more of the mother being overwhelmed by the generous gift before she finally said, “There really are still good people in the world. He had no idea how much this helps us.” 

I too received a gift in the grocery store line that day. My faith in humanity had been restored by this simple act of human kindness. This gentleman’s gift inspired me to continue his good works this holiday season. After all, it is the season of perpetual hope and child-like love for our neighbor! 

Story by | Anna Bell

March/April 2020 Magazine Cover