This morning, I was in the checkout line at Aldi. Aldi is a discount grocery store. I freaking love it.
Today, the shopper in front of me had filled her cart, and had overshot her budget. She asked me for a dollar, and I responded, truthfully, that I had no cash (I am a plastic person; not super proud of that). Things proceeded. I waited. I started to think judgmental thoughts. All of my ugly cultural biases started to rear their ugly heads. I started to think that I had chosen the wrong lane, which is my shopping specialty. She kept taking things out of her cart.
The checkout people at Aldi are super nice, as a rule. The guy in this lane was clearly doing his level best to remain patient. But there was still a chunk of order on the conveyer belt that remained to be sorted. . .
Then I said, “Ma’am, if you are still having trouble covering it, I would like to take care of it.”
She went from stress to joy instantly. She high fived me, then my son, thanking me again and again, and telling my son that he has a really nice mother.
The fact is that I have faced financial panic at many points. I remember my mom counting change. I have applied for public assistance when I was working full time, to keep my family afloat. It sucked.
This woman could have easily been one of my student’s parents. But it doesn’t matter, and I will never know.
I covered twenty-one dollars of her groceries. No huge virtue of mine at all. Instead of feeling pissy and annoyed (a real option, let’s face it) I got to feel, without a doubt, that I had made a right choice today. The biggest and best choice of today.