I love the dollar store. When my kids were little, I’d take them there and let them pick a prize. Sometimes they’d get two! It’s where Santa shops for his stocking stuffers. I bought my first pair of reading glasses there. They were only one dollar!
I don’t go often, and I never just wander around. I always have a list, and I stick to it. It’s easy, because while there are good finds, there’s a lot of crap, too.
On one such day before Christmas, I was buying shirt boxes and a few other last-minute things. It was crowded, but not unreasonably so. There might’ve been five people waiting in each checkout line, and I was one of them.
The woman in front of me was buying three things. I only remember one; it was a can of olives. “They have cans of olives here?” Yeah, I was surprised, too. You never know.
She went to pay, and the zipper on her wallet broke. She couldn’t open it. She tried again and again, and it wouldn’t budge. She grew increasingly uncomfortable, making the other shoppers wait.
The checker outer lady (COL) stared at her. Stared. Didn’t say a word. The soft-spoken woman (SSW) said, “my wallet broke.”
“Well what do you want me to do about it?” COL was angry. “You have to pay for that stuff.”
“I can run to my car and see if I have enough change, but you might just have to put it back,” SSW reasoned.
“I don’t care what you do, but make it quick. I ain’t got all day.”
It might not’ve gone exactly like that, but it was equally as rude and impatiently expressed.
In a quick reaction, I said, “just add them to mine.” It was three dollars and change, y’all.
SSW looked at me in disbelief, apologizing.
“Are you sure? I’m sorry.”
“Of course I’m sure! It’s Christmas. Have a good day!”
She thanked me and left the store. She was embarrassed but thankful.
COL was relentless.
“Why would you do a thing like that?”
She looked at me like I pooped in her coffee. For the record, I didn’t and I wouldn’t.
Here’s why; It was no big deal, and I was trying to save this lady from being further humiliated. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money. She clearly came into the store willing to pay. She wasn’t trying to frustrate COL. I didn’t pay for her because I thought she needed the charity. I paid for her stuff, so the godforsaken upset COL would quit berating her because of a dumb broken zipper.
I’m not going to tell you at which Augusta location this occurred. It’s probably been long forgotten by both COL and SSW. Because I like to assume positive intentions, I’m hoping COL was having a really, really bad day. Maybe her dog died. Maybe she was working a third job to pay the mounting Christmas expenses and she couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think so, but I’m trying here. Maybe she simply hates her job. I’m going to assume it wasn’t because the SSW was wearing a hijab.
I don’t consider what I did to be any sort of heroic act. It was quick, spur of the moment help, from one human to another. Get over it, COL. I hope your day has gotten better. Compassion goes a long way. So does a strong cocktail. Cheers!