In which I hug a complete stranger in the candy section of my friendly neighborhood Wal-mart store

by Megan on April 20, 2009

in Theology for Ordinary Life

Being a homeschool mom tends to imply that I love being with my kids a lot. And I do…except for those occasions when I don’t. Grocery stores fit into this category – rows and rows of mass-produced consumerism turns four otherwise fairly-behaved young girls into, well, not quite fairly-behaved.

It could also be me – I get pretty single focused when I’m shopping (I don’t like going into the chain stuff-marts at all) and try to get what’s on my list – nothing more than what’s on my list – as quickly as possible. I must have had “strained mother” written all over me today, though, because while in the candy aisle picking up Symphony bars to make the world’s best brownies ever, my kids started their predictable “can we have a candy bar” routine.

I was doing my best “tune them out” routine while comparing sizes and prices and blood pressure levels when a woman I’ve never met before smiled at us. This act in and of itself is blog-worthy – families like mine don’t get smiled at very often when we’re in grocery stores; instead, we get sighed at sometimes or asked “Why aren’t you in school today?” other times.

Not today. Today this woman smiled at me and handed me a package of candy.

“Can I buy this for your kids?”

“Excuse me? I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Oh, they don’t have to have this one – there are a bunch there all for the same price. I’d just like to buy them a little treat. Of course, if you don’t want them to have any candy that’s perfectly fine.”

“Oh, no. It’s not that at all. You’ve just really surprised me. People aren’t usually kind to us in these stores. I’m just really surprised.”

“I have three grandchildren I don’t get to see very often. I’d like to do this for you.”

She then pulled out four one dollar bills and handed them to me. My girls, who before this interaction weren’t really being all that crazy (but were nonetheless driving me that way) looked at her with wide open eyes. They couldn’t believe it either. They thanked her profusely and then went to the task of making their selections.

I turned back to the woman again just before she pushed her cart down the aisle and gave her a hug. This isn’t really like me either (I have some pretty significant personal space issues), but I was just so taken by her simple act of kindness that I hugged her. She laughed, we both smiled, and the ending of my shopping trip was completely changed.

Truly, the tongue has the power of life and death. That woman in Wal-mart gave me life today…and she did it for only $4.