Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Lady Bagging Groceries

Grocery shopping during a rainy, damp Monday morning began in its typical fashion yesterday, but the event turned out to be an eye-opener. I watched as the customer in front of me carefully placed her items on the moving conveyor belt. The store was quite busy and noisy: the beeping of the scanners, the din of the items being placed on the conveyor belts, and the rustling noises produced when the plastic grocery bags were being pulled apart by the hands of the "baggers" were sounds that were all too familiar to me.

I overheard the customer speaking to the woman who was bagging the groceries in my line. (I'll name her the "bagger" for lack of a better word.) The bagger appeared to be about 35 years old - a soft-spoken, African-American woman with a speech impediment, dark eyes, and slightly unkempt hair. Her jeans were quite worn, but not really tattered. Her smile was the kind that made you want to do the same.

As the customer unloaded her groceries onto the belt, I noticed the way she chatted with the bagger. The bagger had replied that she'd been at work since 6:00 in the morning, and she was tired. She looked very haggard to me.

"My son wants to celebrate today," the bagger said proudly to the customer.

"Is today a special day?" asked the customer, warmly.

The bagger replied softly, "It's my birthday! And my seven-year-old son wants to celebrate!"

I overheard the customer reply, "Well, Happy Birthday!" as the two women exchanged smiles.

The bagging of the groceries continued, and the customer and the cashier exchanged money. The sounds of the beeping scanners continued to fill the air all around as well.

Finally, I noticed the customer pushing her filled cart through the line and toward the exit door. Then, she changed direction slightly, and wheeled her cart away from the exit. I lost sight of her at that point, and I finished my task of loading my groceries onto the conveyor belt.

After paying for my groceries, I then noticed the customer re-approaching the same woman who'd been bagging our groceries.

In her outstretched hands, the customer held a beautiful, chocolate, six-inch round cake, which she handed to the woman.

The tired woman who'd been plugging along and bagging groceries for 7 and 1/2 hours smiled, and she eagerly took the cake from the customer's hands. I couldn't help but smile. And I smiled even more as I drove home and pictured the woman sharing her birthday cake with her little boy at home. I'd hoped their home was a quiet place where the two of them could sing, laugh, and enjoy the moment, a moment when the woman could forget about the beeping of scanners or bagging others' groceries.

It was indeed a day to celebrate, not only by the tired woman, but by me as well. Kindness knows no boundaries, and it can even be found on a damp, rainy Monday morning, in a grocery store where scanners never seem to stop their beeping, but someone cared enough to celebrate.


Kelly said...

What a heartwarming story! I found myself smiling, too.

Thanks for sharing it here so we could all enjoy it.

ce_squared said...

Thanks for sharing, my friend. Acts of kindness are smiles from the above.

You certainly have been so kind to me here, in this realm. Bless you!

Debby said...

I smiled with tears in my eyes. What a difference that customer made! What a difference we all can make. Thank you for this story. Today, I will look for a reason to celebrate.

Hal Johnson said...

I missed this first time 'round, Debby. Gosh, what a wonderful, heart-warming account. Thanks for the link!

Hal Johnson said...

Geez, sorry about that KAREN. But thanks for the post.