Random Kindness in the Checkout Line

This is a sweet story of a small kindness on which to end a week filled with continuing stories of war and wretchedness on the world stage.

A young woman standing in the checkout line at a supermarket saw the young mother with a small child ahead of her begin to set aside several items she had intended to buy. Clearly between her food stamps and the money she had in hand, she could not pay for all of it. So the milk and fruit and other fresh produce were slowly removed, leaving just canned goods and tortillas and similar pantry staples in her cart. The cashier called for help to get the items back to the shelves.Raj Patel

The young woman watching this unfold quickly stepped forward, and speaking softly in Spanish to keep the conversation as private as possible, asked the flustered mother, who looked to be about her own age, if she still wanted those fresh items. She nodded. “But I cannot afford them all.”

“Would you let me make a New Year’s gift of those items to you?” asked the young woman.

“God bless you,” said the mother, holding her child close. Close to tears, she said again, “God bless you.”

Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. . . .India has, for example, destroyed millions of tons of grains, permitting food to rot in silos, while the quality of food eaten by India’s poorest is getting worse for the first time since Independence in 1947. . . .In the United States in 2005, 35.1 million people didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. At the same time there is more diet-related disease like diabetes, and more food, in the U.S. than ever before. It’s easy to become inured to this contradiction; its daily version causes only  mild discomfort, walking past the ‘homeless and hungry’ signs on the way to supermarkets bursting with food.”  Raj Patel. Stuffed and Starved. 

Every now and again we are given the opportunity to be a little less inured.

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4 comments on “Random Kindness in the Checkout Line
  1. Richard says:

    Awesome inspiration on multiple levels. Thank you

  2. amagjuka says:

    I am a lifelong Catholic and have been disgusted with the church hierarchy who insist on discriminating against LGBT families, refuse to protect children from sexual abusers, and who have attacked American nuns, calling them “radical feminists” (not a compliment) and chastise them for spending too much time helping the poor, and not enough fighting abortion and gay marriage. I decided to give my church donations to NETWORK, a progressive Catholic lobbying organization that deals with issues of hunger and poverty, income inequality, etc. The other part of my donation goes to finding someone every day to help in a small way. Giving donations to food pantries, smaller organizations, and little things like the story you share here helps me to be more aware of those around me. I actually LOOK for what is going on. It has increased my happiness and faith life.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I love what NETWORK and LCWR do as well. And the fact that they keep doing it, that they keep being Catholic in the best sense of the word,
    in the face of hostility from the US bishops.

  4. Kaysie McAlister says:

    As influenced as we all are by ugly news, I think a daily listing of the small miracles like these could actually shift our paradigms a bit!!

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