a lovely encounter with a stranger

Last Sunday, I was standing in line behind a sweet little old lady at the grocery store. She was dressed really cute and was very friendly. Let's caller her Ms. Addie to make things easier. Ms. Addie and I chatted while standing in line. Of course, like most people she thought I was only 17 and was super impressed that I would volunteer to do grocery for my family. I just smiled and said thank you. Somehow, I couldn't make myself tell her that it wasn't the case. I didn't want to ruin her fun and I didn't want to disappoint her. She was having a great time chatting away so I went with it.

When it came time for her to pay, she ended up being short of a few dollars. The lady behind the counter rudely asked her if she had any other means of payment. And by rudely, I mean very loudly in a very condescending almost brutal manner. My heart broke for her because her face fell when it was bright and smiley not more than a second before. And Ms. Addie apologetically said: "Honey, I'm sorry. I'm old and I don't know how to use these cards thing so all I have is cash." The cashier just rolled her eyes and started drumming her finger on her counter.

The line was growing behind us and there were some other grunts from the end of it. So I asked the cashier to put the difference with my groceries. She rolled her eyes again and made sure that I knew it was a bother to her to remove the extra things from Ms. Addie's bags and to re-ring them for me. Ms. Addie on the other end kept on saying "oh! it's okay honey, you don't have to do that, I'll just come back later" But it wouldn't have made that much of a difference to me so I said it was okay (Little note, this part of the story is not really relevant, I'm only sharing it so that I can illustrate what came next). Anyway, after almost 15 minutes of dealing with attitudes and my groceries pretty much being thrown across the counter, I said good bye to sweet little Ms. Addie and couldn't help but smile as I walked toward my car while she waved me goodbye . She was a hoot, and one of the sweetest strangers I've ever met.

Fast forward to this afternoon, I had to go get gas. And as I'm pulling up to the pump, the person in the car across from me kept on waving and smiling. I didn't recognize her at first, but YES! It was Ms. Addie!! She rushed over as I came out of my car, so I said: "Hello again :)! How are you?" She said "Oh Honey! I'm doing good, I'm so glad I ran into you again, I wanted to thank you for what you did". Mind you she is very expressive, and everybody just paused and turned to look at us. I was embarrassed to say the least. Because Ms Addie then proceeds on saying "I'm going to pay for your gas, and don't even try to say no"...

I was so flabbergasted I couldn't really say anything for a few seconds. Then of course I told her it wasn't necessary, and it was a pleasure to meet her Sunday, I had a really good time chatting with her but she didn't need to do anything for me. But she kept on saying "no, no, no, don't you even think about it" Then walked in front of me, surprisingly faster than I could catch her and paid for
my pump before I even reached her! Then she turned around and patted my hand and said "Thank you Honey!"

I was humbled, shocked, confused, and many other things all at once. I wasn't really able to react to any of it because it all just went by so fast before I could even muster up a reaction or move or really do much of anything. I was embarrassed too, because by this time everybody at the gas station pretty much stopped what they were doing and openly gawked at us as the whole thing was evolving. I mean, I don't take advantages of little old ladies ... and I certainly never thought that I would run into her again, much less have her pay for my gas! Plus, my tank was completely empty and this random person, I met in a grocery store just filled it up for me!!

But mostly, I was humbled, very humbled and amazingly surprised. Not that I wanted her to pay for my gas, or give me anything in return, but the whole thing warmed up my heart. Here was this 70 something year old lady, with the sweetest temperament ever, who was rudely treated, publicly embarrassed in a grocery store, who then goes above and beyond anything a person would expect to thank some stranger. And that despite everything that happened to her, she was still very nice and kind even to the person who wronged her. Yes, I was very humbled.

I don't know if I'll ever run into Ms. Addie again, but I am thankful that I got to meet someone like her. She showed me that even though it's easy to get bogged down by the pebbles coming our way, your attitude has a large effect on how you see things and how you react to things. I honestly can say that if I was in her place when the grocery lady pretty much yelled vile things to her, I would have lost my cool even though I don't like confrontations, especially public ones. I will always remember her lovely face, with gentle eyes and a kind smile, along with the lesson in humility I learned in our brief and yet so inspiring encounter. Thank You Ms. Addie!


Rosina said...

What a heartwarming story :) It was so kind of you to help her out and she sounds like a real gem :)

kristina said...

she was wonderful :), i'm really glad i met her!

Beth Ann said...

Kristina... thank you for the blogpost.... we never know how our "genuineness" can effect us down the road... good or bad! You made Miss Addie's Day and she did yours, too! :')

Beth Ann Russell
Blackwater, ON

Sheree said...

What a wonderful story, it brings tears to my eyes! How said that this wonderful sweet lady would be dehumanized in front of a group of people. I'm so very glad that you helped her!!

Jane said...

Law of karma, do unto other as you would have them do unto you. You never know when you ma meet an angel.-jml

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