During my last grocery shopping trip, I was presented with an opportunity – I could act and help someone or do nothing. Either choice would have been fine by our cultural standards, but I chose to act, and it made my day. It even had a ripple effect in that my joy followed me home and warmed things there too.
As I was exiting the grocery store and pushing my cart towards the parking lot, I noticed a lady struggling to carry her bag of groceries through the parking lot. It looked painful as she limped along lifting the bag as high as she could off the ground, swinging it as she moved her legs forward. As we got closer, she paused and put her groceries on the curb to rest her arm and legs.
In that moment, I realized I had a choice: I could keep walking, pretending I didn’t see her because I was running late or I could act. To hell with being late! She needed help and this wouldn’t take long.
I stopped and asked her if she could use some help. She smiled and explained that she was just going to the bus stop across the lot and accepted my offer. So we placed her bag in my cart. Then, together, we started walking to my car to drop off my groceries. Along the way, we shared a relaxed friendly banter. She told me how her kids love to eat so you always buy more. And she chuckled about how we always buy more because it’s a good deal forgetting that we have to carry it home. I know I’ve done that a time or two as well.
It wasn’t long until we were at my car. I suggested that I load my stuff into the car and that she continue on and take the cart with her to the bus stop.
She asked, “But don’t you need your money back?” I paused.
She read my face then insisted, “No. You need your money back. I can’t take your cart.”
That made me pause. There was no real reason I couldn’t take a little longer so I could get my money back. We agreed to walk together to the bus stop. She helped me with the rest of my groceries and then we walked across the parking lot together towards the bus stop.
When we arrived at the bus stop, she took out her heavy bag and turned to me with an outstretched hand. “My name is Shanti,” she said. To which I replied, “I’m Richelle” and I reached out to take her hand. (This part really warms my heart.) Shant grasped my hand in both of hers and gave me such a loving smile that it shone through eyes. Then she offered such a sincere thank you that it warmed my heart clear to my soul. As she looked me in the eyes, she said, “Bless you.”
Then she turned to my son to thank him too. He offered his hand to shake and told her his name. But instead of taking his hand, Shanti took his smiling face in her hands and kissed him on the cheek, thanking and blessing him too. As we walked away to go return our cart Shanti blessed us one more time. She had shown us such love and appreciation for such a small act of kindness.
She had shown us such love and appreciation for such a small act of kindness! I’m so honoured to have met such a kind woman, who so freely showed her appreciation. This interaction is a gift that I can reflect upon and grow as a person. I don’t know that I’ve ever expressed my gratitude to a stranger in such an open manner. Perhaps I will if given the opportunity. And she made it so easy to receive her love. Maybe that is because she so freely accepted my gift of love.
This interaction could have been all about me helping her and getting satisfaction out of giving, but it is not. Today, while I reflect upon our meeting, I smile and feel loved. I received so much. It so true that we can’t help others without helping ourselves. Our brief encounter and this small act of kindness definitely had an impact – on me.
I’m glad I took the opportunity to act so could meet Shanti. I can’t help thinking about her. I send her love wherever she may be.