Not All Cash Is Cold

, | Hopeless | December 8, 2016

(I work at an entertainment retail store. One of our services is buying back used movies, books, CDs, and video games, and you can get cash or store credit. However, we don’t give very much cash back. A young couple with a baby girl comes in with five bags of things to buy back. They look like they’ve had it really hard, and are in desperate need of some money. After processing all the items in our system, we can only take one of the bags. The couple are the first people in my line. A second customer comes up just as I tell the woman what I can offer.)

Me: “Ma’am, I can give you $[small amount] in cash, or $[small amount] in store credit.”

(It is a very low price, and the woman looks devastated.)

Customer #1: “Really? That’s all you can give me? What about the stuff in the other bags? Why can’t I sell those?”

Me: “I’m afraid we aren’t selling the other items you brought in, or they aren’t up to our policy standards.”

Customer #1: *sighs* “I guess I’ll take the cash, then.”

(I have her sign the receipt. I have to leave to make a copy of the receipt, but I’m not so far away that I can’t see and hear what goes on in my till. The second customer is making funny faces at the toddler, who is giggling up a storm. He has one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. Then he grabs one of the toys from the till – a Hello Kitty light-up fan – and pulls out his wallet. He gets the mother’s attention.)

Customer #2: “Excuse me, miss? I would like to give this to you, and buy this toy for your little girl.”

(I can clearly see that he takes $200 from his wallet and hands it out to her.)

Customer #1: “Oh, no, please, we can’t take your money. That’s way too generous.”

Customer #2: “I don’t think so. Actually, I don’t think it’s enough. Not after what your daughter did.”

Customer #1’s Husband: “Why, what did she do?”

Customer #2: *grinning widely* “She stole my heart. Now, I insist that you take the money and the toy. Chances are I’ve been where you are, and I wish someone had done this for me. You deserve it for taking such good care of her.”

(I came back to give her the cash I owed her, just in time to see the tearful woman slip the $200 in her purse. The second customer purchased the toy for the girl before his own items. The husband shook his hand, thanking him over and over. The woman hugged him, blessing him, and the little girl happily waved goodbye as she left with the new toy.)

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