By Kellie Clark
Life often proves that what you focus on, expands. The thoughts, ideas, feelings, and dreams that we infuse with our energy, tend to show up in the world around us as opportunities. This happened to me after watching the week-long video series on MoMentorship about Being Nice.
Those messages deeply touched my heart and brought my attention to my own life – how am I nice to those I love and others in the world? Where are the opportunities to be nice that I am missing? Am I always nice when others are not? These were the questions on my mind when I walked into Kohl’s department store.
I really did not need anything in the department store that day; I had a fist full of rewards points that were about to expire and I hated to see them wasted! I am very frugal and I was not about to give away “free money!” So, I wandered through the store, a little bored, finding nothing that I needed or wanted for myself. I meandered to the toy department and thought, I will just use the rewards certificates towards a few toys for my son’s sixth birthday and tuck the gifts away for a few months.
With a teetering stack of Spiderman, pirates, and bug-catching equipment in my arms, I stood in line at the cashier’s desk behind a mother and her little daughter. I could see there was a problem with transaction between them and the young girl at the check-out. The mother was red-faced and teary-eyed as she frantically tried to communicate in sign language to the cashier holding a gift card in one hand and the phone receiver in the other. The little daughter, who was perhaps six years old, was sadly too young to really understand and adequately translate the adult conversation that needed to take place.
Before I had fully wrapped my mind around the situation unfolding at the cashier’s desk, I had noticed the old, tattered clothing of the two customers in front of me. Both the hearing-impaired mother and her daughter were clean but, outwardly appeared to have few financial resources. That gave me the feeling that they really needed the bag full of clothing sitting on the counter in front of them.
The cashier hung up the phone and explained that the balance on the gift card the mother was using to make the purchase had been depleted. I could see terrible embarrassment and sadness on her face, as her shaky hands tried to explain that she had no other form of payment. Worse, I could see the same embarrassment and sadness in the eyes of the little daughter peering up at the adults in front of her.
My heart sunk. There I was, purchasing junk that I did not even need with my wallet stuffed full of “free money.”
“Wait!” I called out, dumping my stack of toys onto the counter and reaching out to touch the shoulder of the mother who was racing away with her head lowered in shame. “I want to use my rewards certificates to pay for her order!” I was directing my words at the cashier and my eyes at the mother. Stunned, all three of them stared at me with gaping mouths. The little girl understood and tried to explain that I wanted to help but, some things need no explanation. The sweet mother understood, too.
Eyes now filled with tears of relief and joy, a crying cashier completed the purchase made by a crying mother and child.
All the while, all that I could think was that there was a time in my life when I was not much better off than I imagined that mother to be – and, others were nice to me. Sometimes, everyone needs someone to just be nice.
As I graciously received the gratitude conveyed in the signed words, “Thank you,” I hugged the mother and child in one big embrace sending them into a world that was hopefully made better by one random act of kindness.
I did purchase the gifts for my son’s birthday – with real money. Deep in my heart I know that the celebration of his sixth year of life will be sweeter than cake and ice cream for the memory of a gift of kindness offered to a stranger.