A Simple Bag of Groceries

A few years ago I slipped into a market to buy a few groceries for lunch.  Standing in front of me at the checkout was an elderly woman who didn't seem to be altogether lucid.  It quickly became obvious that she had selected more food than she could pay for, as she fumbled in her purse frantically for a few more coins.  The checker politely continued to add up the items.

"I just don't understand where my money is," said the old lady as she made another desperate foray into the depths of her purse.

With that, I whispered to the checker, "Just go ahead and total her bill, then accept whatever money she has and put the rest on my bill."

That's what she did, and I paid an extra eight dollars to make up the difference.  The old woman never knew that I had helped her.  She shuffled off with her cart, relieved that her groceries had cost exactly the amount of money she was able to locate.  Then I looked back at the checker and saw that she was crying.  I asked her why.

"Because," she said, "I've been doing this work for 20 years, and I've never seen anyone do something like that before."

It was no big deal—an insignificant eight dollars—but simple kindness is so unusual today that it shocks us when it occurs.  I'll tell you this: That may have been the best eight dollars I ever spent!  I only wish I'd paid the rest of the dear lady's bill.

Coming Home

By Dr. James Dobson

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