A Check-Out Line Encounter

An invaluable lesson about love and helping one another.

by
- Posted on Nov 1, 2017

A senior man walking down a grocery aisle with a shopping basket full of items.

The checkout clerk at the grocery store gave me a fistful of change. I was trying to corral the coins into my purse when the zipper jammed. “Murphy’s Law,” I muttered. I didn’t want to hold up the line, so I maneuvered my half-open purse and my two bags of groceries around to the end of the counter. There I continued my battle with the obstinate zipper.

The woman behind me paid for her items and noticed my frustration. “Let me help you move to that empty spot over there,” she said, gesturing to a table. “It might be a little easier to manage. I’ll grab your groceries.”

Yes, I’m a senior citizen, and you look young enough to be my daughter, I thought, but I’m still capable of taking care of myself AND my groceries, thank you very much! I was about to refuse her help, but the zipper slipped off its track again.

She brought the bags over to the table, then without any warning she threw her arms around me and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. I think she was as startled as I was because she stepped back, looking flustered. “I’ve left lipstick on your cheek,” she said, taking out a tissue to wipe it off.

That’s when her eyes filled with tears and she told me, “I lost my mother a week ago today.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. Now it was my turn to give her a hug. We stood together there for a moment, tears in both of our eyes. She squeezed my hand and went on her way. The time elapsed? Two minutes, tops. But the lesson learned? Invaluable. When someone wants to help you, let them. They might need it even more than you.

Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to Guideposts magazine.

View Comments