Yesterday I failed. The lady in line in front of me did not have enough money to pay for all of her groceries. It could have been any of us. It could have been me. There have been times when I have said a silent prayer while stressing out over each item being rung up. Maybe I could squeeze another week's worth of toothpaste out of the tube at home. Should I put the Orange Juice back? I stand there trying to mentally calculate how much more money the remaining items on the conveyor belt are going to cost me.
Yesterday I had enough money, but someone else did not. I understood all too well how she felt as she realized she was going to have to put some stuff back. I tried to give her my best "it's all going to be ok" smile as she made a phone call to find out why her card was denied. I didn't know what to say to her, but I wanted to tell her that it was ok - I wasn't upset and I wasn't judging her.
As she went through her cart and pulled out items to return I struggled, not knowing how to react. As the items to be returned stacked up I offered to get an empty cart to put them in. Did I just add to her embarrassment? I didn't mean to. I just wanted to help.
How much money do we have in our bank account? Do we have enough to buy her groceries? Her bill was larger than ours for the week. Maybe I could afford to pay for part of it? How do I do this? What do I say? What can I eliminate from my cart to help her pay for the items in hers?
I was frozen in place, wanting to help, but unsure of what I could do or say to make the situation better. She kept pulling items out of her cart. I watched her dig through the bags trying to make a decision on which items to keep and which ones to put back. My heart broke as she tried to explain to her child why he couldn't have his favorite cereal this week. Inside I was screaming at myself to do something, anything, just do something. This woman needed help and I just stood there.
Kenneth did what I did not have the guts to do. He silently took out his own bank card and paid for her groceries.
Who is Kenneth? The cashier - a Walmart employee. He probably broke some rules in the employee handbook when he swiped his own card, but he is winning at life. I had the privilege of talking to Kenneth a few weeks ago when I got lucky enough to get in his line for the first time. He was kind and patient and soft spoken. He kept a conversation going with me, asking about my kids and what position my son played on the football team while he bagged my groceries and put them in the cart for me. I went home that day and told my husband about the really kind cashier I had met at Walmart that day. When I got in line yesterday I smiled as I recognized that same friendly face behind the register.
The world needs more Kenneth's. I need to be more like Kenneth. I cried as I stood in the parking lot yesterday putting my groceries in the trunk and I promised myself that I would not let that moment happen again. The very next time I came across an opportunity to help someone I would say yes without hesitating. I would be more like Kenneth.
Today I got my chance as I responded to a post on Facebook asking for help. My family has adopted another family for Thanksgiving. In the coming weeks I will sit down with my husband and children and make a list of all the yummy foods we enjoy eating on Thanksgiving Day. We will go shopping together to purchase all the ingredients which will in turn be donated to a local food pantry to be given to our adopted family. This year we will do all of our shopping at Walmart and I will be looking for Kenneth when choosing a check-out lane so I can thank him for making a difference.
Thank you for hiring Kenneth.