I noticed the very elderly, very stooped, gentleman as he shuffled in front of me in the grocery store. Guessing his age to be near-90, I was actually impressed just how well he got around as he pushed the little cart along one hand gripping a small list.
As he neared the produce I noticed a grocery-store employee walk up to him, greet him warmly, and then ask to see the list. The employee then walked him to each item on the list in the produce section, helped him pick out good stuff, and placed it in the cart for him.
How nice, I thought. That’s a very good employee and store ambassador.
I turned my attention to my own list, gathering items as I wandered the aisles.
Then, I saw the elderly gentleman again. This time another employee was helping him choose just the right kind of pancake mix. I imagined his wife at home, scolding him for buying the wrong brand, and smiled at another good employee at work.
A few aisles later, again here he was and this time an employee was helping him pick out chicken pieces in the meat department.
I decided to follow more closely and pay attention, because I was pretty sure I was witnessing an extraordinary sequence of kindness..nothing random going on here.
Sure enough, as I followed along first one employee then another escorted the gentleman up and down each aisle. Pausing to allow him to rest, or showing him different items as he pointed to them and asked questions. Holding him by the elbow, supporting him, helping him, and in no hurry whatsoever.
Finally, I finished my shopping at about the same time as he did and I watched as employees flocked around him, one emptying his basket onto the conveyor belt. One bagging his groceries, and one assisting him with payment. The cashier took great care to go slowly, lest he have any questions.
By this time, it was obvious I had something in my eye..both my eyes. They were watering fiercely.
When I got to the cashier, I asked if she knew him. Shaking her head she said, “No, but he comes in here often and we try to be helpful.”
That’s all it was. No fanfare. Nothing but people being people.