You Can Always Be Kind, Even With Your Foot In Your Mouth

, , , , , , | Right | April 30, 2021

I am working as a cart attendant at a retail chain. Part of our responsibility is to help guests load items into cars when needed.

One late summer afternoon, I get called over the walkie-talkie to help a woman to her car with her purchase. For some reason, she has parked her van at the very last parking spot, so we have to walk together for a couple of minutes through the near-empty parking lot as I push two heaping carts and she pushes another.

We make small talk about how beautiful the weather is, how the days are getting longer, this and that. We are both smiling and laughing a bit the whole time about unimportant things as I’m loading various chips, sodas, doughnuts, paper plates, napkins, juices, and other things into the car.

Me: “Wow! You must be getting ready to have a big party!”

Customer: “It’s a funeral, actually.”

Me: *Embarrassed* “Oh, I’m sorry.”

She doesn’t respond, and I clam up and finish putting things in the van. Though I know now that I did nothing wrong, at the time, I felt like an insensitive jerk.

I close the van door, collect the carts, and turn to see that the customer is holding out money for me.

Me: “Ma’am, I’m not allowed to—”

Customer: *Cutting me off* “Take it.”

Me: “No, ma’am, I can’t, and besides, I—”

She interrupts once more, her voice cracking.

Customer: “Please take it. You really helped me today. You have no idea how much I needed someone to be nice to me today.  Besides, it was nice to talk about something normal during this time. So, please… take it.”

I took the money, and she smiled, got into her van, and drove away.

Having just moved to Chicago, I was pretty strapped for cash and hadn’t yet eaten on this particular day. The $10 she gave me was able to be used for two meals. It was such a small thing, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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