A Trip to the Local Grocery Store

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Today I arrived at my local grocery store and proceeded to the outside cart area. This particular store believes in saving expenses and has a system whereby the carts are interlocked and you place a quarter in the slot to let loose the lock. The quarter returned to you upon pushing the cart into another when through shopping. 

As I approached the cart area, I saw a middle-aged woman struggling to release the cart from the locking mechanism. Try as she might, the cart would not budge, nor could she retrieve the quarter and get another cart to use for her shopping. At the same time, a man walked up returning his cart, quarter inserted. I told the woman, "Perhaps we can use this cart before it is placed into the locking system."

The young man barked, "I'll lose my quarter if you do that!" Instinctively, I stretched out my hand showing the young man he could take my quarter, which he quickly grabbed from my fingers. The woman was now flustered, apologizing for my loss of twenty-five cents.  I smiled and waved her on indicating it was nothing.

Through with the shopping spree, groceries placed on the conveyer belt it became apparent there was a problem with the frail, elderly woman attempting to pay her bill.  Seems her bottle of water totaled $2.98 and she had a mere $2.93 in her account. People behind me moaned, one woman commented, "Figures I'd be stuck in this line." The looks of disgust and dismay cast the elderly females way were obvious and surely an embarrassment.  Ignoring the rudeness of others, I walked up to the checkout counter and slid my ATM card in the slit, smiled at the woman standing before me with tears of despair in her eyes. I again smiled and said, "Enjoy your water." She scurried off after thanking me for my kindness.

Once the groceries had been piled in the trunk of my car and having returned the cart and quarter, I walked back to my vehicle. I noticed an old man, a bit disheveled, cane in right hand, attempting to lift what seemed to be a very heavy bag from his cart. Three teenagers stood a few feet away laughing and jeering at each feeble movement this tender man made to lift the bag. I couldn't help but give them a look of abhorrence before reaching the man's cart.

"Please sir, allow me to do that for you, this bag looks quite weighty", I said while picking up the large bundle and placing it in his trunk. He turned to me with a look of relief upon his face and said a simple, "Thank you miss." I smiled, closed the trunk lid and returned to my car.

As I drove home, I could not help but wonder what was wrong with people. How could they look the other way, ridicule or demean others who were experiencing difficulty. Surely, I was not the only person who would lend assistance to someone in need. And how ironic that one little trip to the store had shown how very self-centered and uncaring people had become.

I write this true story in hope someone will read it and realize how important it is to reach out a hand, say hello to the lonely, share a smile with a stranger and if a situation occurs where you may be able to assist someone, do it willingly.

No, I am not some martyr or goody-goody looking for praise.

You see, anyone of us could be that woman at the checkout counter or in need of an extra quarter or a hand in lifting a heavy package.  I am hopeful someone will find the compassion in his or her heart to assist me should the tables turn.

Wake up people! You'll find if you go that one extra step each day, it will not be others you are helping most but yourself who will receive the greatest joy.

Monica M. Brinkman,

Author, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel
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