I pulled my items from the shopping cart and placed them on the conveyor belt in the check-out line — cake mixes, powdered sugar, eggs, vegetable shortening and two bottles of wine. The first four items were for the birthday cakes I was making for Clayton and Brooklyn who were having a shared birthday party on Saturday. The last item was because it was Friday. Or because it was raining. Or because the moon was out. Or because I was wearing pink shoes. (Really, you can insert any reason, any reason at all, here and it would be accurate.)
A woman got in line behind me and put her purchases on the belt. I noticed the pair of leopard print ankle boots she’d set on the conveyor and commented, “Those are totally cute! Ooooo, they’re on clearance too!” praising her sense of fashion and ability to find a bargain.
She returned, “Yeah, they’re a little small for me, but they’re only $11! I can just wear them when I don’t have to do a lot of standing!”
“Totally! What’s a little pain when you find totally cute, $11 boots, right?” I wholeheartedly agreed. “You can shove your foot in those and make ‘em work!”
It was my turn now, and the cashier rang up my cake ingredients. When she got to the wine, I was hit with a wave of panic. She was about to ask me for my ID, and I remembered that I’d taken my license out of my purse and stuck it in my jeans pocket the other day. I was pretty sure I’d never returned it to my wallet. Here’s the thing — I’m 43. Although I don’t think I look especially old, I certainly couldn’t pass for 21. Still, Target cards everyone. I mean, everyone! You could be 95, look like you’re 105, be in a wheelchair, on oxygen, with white hair and wrinkles on your winkles, and they would card you. It’s their rule. Ordinarily, I love that. When they ask for my ID, I gush, “Oh certainly! Here you are! I know, I know, I don’t look like I could possibly buy alcohol legally!” Admittedly, the cashier generally rolls their eyes and/or laughs at me, but still …
Today, however, I was bummed because clearly, I’m over 21, but because I didn’t have my license with me, I couldn’t buy the wine. I looked at the woman behind me (we were best friends now because we had bonded over shoes) and joked, “A night without wine?! However will I survive?” We laughed, I paid for my purchases and called, “Have a good night,” to the cashier and the savvy shopper behind me.
I started to grab my bags and was halted by the woman in line as she told me, “You know what? I’ll buy the wine for you.”
I declined, saying, “Oh, no thank you. Really, it’s no big deal.”
Determined, she continued, “But a night without wine … Let me get them for you.”
“Oh thank you, but it’s okay. I was just joking! I don’t have any cash to pay you, but thank you so much. That’s really nice of you!” I smiled and turned away.
“It’s okay,” she said. It’s a pay-it-forward kinda thing. “I want to do this.”
Now, I’ve been on the receiving end of huge, generous, amazing blessings more than once over the past few years. And every time it happens, I’m touched so deeply. Such random acts of kindness and generosity impart a feeling so profound, it leaves an indelible mark on one’s heart. All-at-once, I feel humbled, thankful, surprised, undeserving, overwhelmed with renewed faith in humanity. Although it feels wonderful when good and unexpected things happen to me, I still have a hard time simply acknowledging them for what they are. I struggle to accept those blessings with grace. My expressions of gratitude feel so inadequate.
On the other hand, I enjoy doing random acts of kindness for others. The feeling I get knowing I’ve made someone else smile envelopes me with the most amazing fulfillment. I try to keep that in mind when someone does something kind for me — that I’m not the only one benefiting from the exchange. The giver is also being filled with that wonderful feeling that comes when you’ve done something nice for someone else for no particular reason other than it feels good to do it.
I thanked the woman in line behind me at Target profusely, unsure of what else to say. I asked her name. Gina. And I promised myself to pay her kind act forward. And how timely was this interaction as my school is celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week now! I will definitely be paying it forward every day this week, fully understanding how awesome it is to bless someone else and how amazing it is to be on the receiving end of that blessing! How are you going to pay it forward this Random Acts of Kindness Week?
Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books here: Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth).
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