Hello and good day!
A heavyset fellow came limping down the sidewalk in front of our chocolate shop. He leaned on a cane with one hand and carried a Target shopping bag in the other.
His hair was white, and he was balding on top. He wore an unzipped grey hooded sweatshirt with a green t-shirt underneath.The t-shirt stuck out over the curvature of his bulbous stomach. His salt and pepper beard was long and scruffy and curly, and he wore plain, grey rimmed glasses. Every time he put weight on his cane side foot, his face grimaced with terrible pain.
It was a lovely cold fall day, one of the first when I could feel cold in my lungs if I took a deep inhale.
I was standing in front of the shop admiring the landscape and relishing the chill in the air, enjoying especially the feel of cool weather on my face.
The man sat down on a curved concrete bench that runs around the outside of a planter that is filled with robust and healthy pink rhododendrons.
He was within range of my voice, so I decided to strike up a conversation with him.
"How's your day going?" I asked.
"It just got a lot better. Thank you for asking," he said.
That was not the answer I was expecting, what with the severity of his limp and the pain he appeared to be in.
"How's your foot doing?" I asked.
"Really bad. Gout," he said.
"You been suffering with that for a while?"
"On and off. But I've always got something falling apart on me. I'm in bad health. Diabetes. Bad lungs. All my own fault."
"What happened that made your day better?"
"Come take a look at this."He waved me over and patted the bench for me to sit down next to him. He opened the bag and pulled out a dishrack.
It was one of those that you put on the counter next to your sink where handwashed dishes can drain off.
"I just bought this," he said. He gave it to me to inspect.
"This is what made your day better?" I asked.
"Let me tell you what happened. I was over in Target. I have a Humana card. I'm on disability and the government puts money on the card for me. I don't have any family. None. Not married. No kids. All by myself. I can't work. I'm on the dole. It is what it is. I don't mind being alone and I get by alright. Anyhow, I know I have money on this card because I always check online before I go out. I usually go out once a day because it's hard for me to walk. I just live right around the corner here. Today I came out to buy a new dishrack. My old one is all beat up."
I handed the dishrack back to him. He put it in the bag.
"I'm at the front of the line and there is a pretty long line behind me, all the people with carts too full to do self-checkout. I can't do self-checkout with the Humana card. So, I'm there and my card isn't working. Its finnicky sometimes."
"Did the people behind you get impatient?"
"Oh yeah. But there's nothing I can do. I don't have any other money and I came all the way over here for this one thing. I asked the cashier to call a manager over, but the manager couldn't fix it either."
"What were the people behind you doing?"
"They were getting angry. They wanted me to hurry up. Finally, I had to accept that something was wrong with the card. I was about to walk away. I thanked the cashier and turned around and took one awful step onto my bad foot and it hurt really bad. I was feeling sad about the whole thing. That's when I heard somebody call out."
"Who was it?"
"It was a woman. She yelled out for me to wait. She left her cart in the middle of the line and came running over with her two little kids. She asked the cashier how much the dishrack cost, and the cashier told her that it was $14.99. The woman said she wanted to buy it for me."
"Did you let her?
"I tried to talk her out of it. I told her it was ok. I'd come back some other time. But she insisted and since the people in line were already in a hurry, I let her. She paid with her card. I thanked her and smiled at her kids and then limped out with this dish rack."
"It all makes sense now. Of course your day is getting better. Let me see the dishrack again if you don't mind."
He took the dishrack out of his bag and handed it to me.
I turned it all around and gave it a good looking over.
A few customers walked into the shop, but I decided to let the team member on staff attend to them.
"This is a good dishrack," I said.
I handed it back.
"I need to do something for that woman," he said.
"Do you know her?" I asked.
"No. I can't do anything directly for her. But I need to do something. It's not right that a young lady with two little kids is paying my way. I'm sick and in bad shape but I'm not decrepit. I can do something." "You can definitely do something. We can always do something, even if its something small."
"You know what I was thinking right before I sat down?" he said.
"I was thinking I should quit smoking. That would be a good way to repay her. Look at me. I still smoke. Can you believe that? On disability, limping around with gout, and I smoke."
"If that mom ever found out that you quit smoking because of her small act of kindness, it would mean the world to her. You should really think seriously about doing that."
"It'll be hard. I've been smoking a long time."
"It will definitely be hard, but it can be done. A lot of people have done it."
We sat together in silence for a moment.
"Ok. I'm off," he said."Next time you walk by, if we see each other, let me know if you're making progress."
"Sure will. Thanks for letting me talk your ear off."
He stood up carefully.
When he had his balance, I handed him the plastic bag with the dishrack.
I gave him a pat on the back, and he limped away, slowly.
Wouldn't it be something if he quit smoking because a young mother in Target bought him a dishrack?
You never know how a small act of kindness might change somebody's mindset.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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