The other day I was trying to squeeze as many errands into the morning as I could before Margot’s naptime. Most days I like to stay close to home in the morning and venture out after Margot’s nap. But, I guess this particular morning I’d had enough coffee with my Wheates and felt a lot like superwoman. After a few errands the last stop was the grocery store; it was just far enough from nap time that I didn’t need to home yet but close enough that Margot was tired, squirmy and only wanted to be held (wouldn’t sit in the cart). I finally got all of my groceries and my arm was about to fall off – 21lbs may be light for an 18 month old but it’s pretty darn heavy for these noodle arms I’ve got. So, I made it to the checkout aisle, there was only one register open – it’s line was completely backed up because of a price check that was taking an unusual amount of time. I could feel the frustration start to grow inside me, meanwhile I’m trying to remember that this is no ones fault; it’s just a difficult situation. Soon I will be home, Margot will be napping, and my tired arm will survive – really pep-talking my way through this. Then a man comes behind me with his cart. He can’t get through because we are backed up into the main aisle…so with Margot in one hand I used the other to move a DVD stand to the side so that I would have room to lift my cart and move it for him to get by. He chuckles and says “Hey! That’s some talent!” I gave a half hearted laugh and thought to myself, “Thanks, but what would reeeeeeally have been nice – is if you had helped me!” (I may or may not have a tendency to get the attitude of a 12 year old when I’m frustrated- it’s something I’m working on but let’s try to look past it for the sake of the story). OK, so, in summery- stressful trip to the grocery store due to arm falling off, long line at the register & unhelpful man in the aisle. Here’s the great part of the story though and the reason for sharing it: we finally moved forward and I was able to start putting my groceries on the belt with my free hand while still managing a squirmy, tired baby in the other. All of a sudden the woman in front of me turned around and without even asking if I needed help she stared helping! WHAT! She saw the need and went for it – she continued until all of the groceries were unloaded. All of my frustration melted away like buttercream frosting in the middle of July – just like that it was gone! I inhaled a small gasp of surprise and thanked her so much for her kindness. She definitely had no idea how much her simple act would affect me that morning. A few weeks from now she likely won’t even remember the event but, really, I might never forget it because it got me thinking – Would I have jumped in and started helping without hesitation or would I have brushed it off telling myself she probably doesn’t need help and might be offended if I offered.
Sometimes I tell myself people will be offended if I help them..where did that thought process even come from?!
About a year go I was talking with my good friend about a similar topic, she said “If someone gets upset with you for trying to help, that is something going on in their own heart. You don’t need to feel bad for being kind.” Wise words.
I am so thankful that the woman in front of me didn’t brush off the urge to help. She turned my morning (and probably afternoon) around. I want to be that person, I want to look for ways to be unexpectedly helpful. I’m not a mean person, I like to be helpful, I love to love on those close to me, and generally, I am courteous in public places – I think I sometimes tell myself that that’s good enough…but I’m not talking here about being generally courteous or loving on someone I already care about – I’m talking about spontaneous, unplanned, out of the routine offering love to the strangers around me. It’s kind of absurd that this woman’s seemingly small act impacted me so much, right? But I guess that’s what kindness does – it’s presence is empowering and it’s effects are long lasting. So, thank you angel-lady in the grocery aisle, you made my day better and you showed me how valuable a small random act of kindness can be. I wish I could bring you flowers and a note of gratitude but instead I will strive to always act on the kind hearted impulses and pay it forward.