Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whatever Wednesday - the man who offered to pay for my milk

I wanted to share this story, really so I don't forget it.  It reminded me that there is human decency in this world, because it is easy to see all that is indecent.

I was at CVS several weeks ago, buying milk and toothpaste.  The milk we needed, the toothpaste I was getting was because I had a coupon, making it free.  Anyway, I go to pay and give the coupon first, and it wouldn't come off the bill.  It wasn't expired and it was the right kind, it just wouldn't work.  I rifled through my purse to find another coupon for it bc I thought I had one.  Seeing a short line form behind me, I told the cashier to forget it, I don't want the toothpaste, but could I have my coupon back.  The cashier wasn't on my wavelength, and was going to get the manager to come over, and I said a few times, "no, please, just take it off, I'll come back."   Anyway, the man behind me said, "I'm sorry to butt in, but can I treat you to that milk."  I didn't understand, and then his eyes told me he thought the problem was that I couldn't pay for the milk.  It took me back - I've never had anyone say something like that to me.   I quickly explained I meant the toothpaste, and that I didn't need the toothpaste, and I definitely had money for the milk!  He said, "well, I wasn't much listening but I see the 2 gallons I figured you have kids at home and in this economy, we gotta help each other out, ya know?"  I thanked him several times, and said I hope he finds someone who needs him to treat them to some milk.

How many people go out of their way on a daily basis for others?  How many people surprise a stranger with random acts of kindness?  Doing so takes thought, time, and sometimes not knowing their reaction means taking a risk.  I remember one time taking a meal to a neighbor down the street who had just had a baby.  I didn't know them, I just saw the stork sign.  While my little ones napped, I made a full meal and when they woke I put them in the double stroller and walked the meal down.  She opened the door, gave me the strangest look, and took the meal with a quick thanks.  I walked away wondering if she really might throw it away by the way she looked at me.  But I knew in my heart that I was doing something I should.

Treating others with respect, kindness and grace is a gift you give yourself, too.  Doesn't it feel good to know you're making a difference in someone's day - maybe even their life?

I don't know that man who offered to pay for my milk - but someday I really hope to be in a situation where I am behind a mom who might need me to pay for her milk, diapers, whatever.  And I promise, I'll tell her I'm paying it forward, and that man's kindness will be honored.

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