I don’t know about you, but I can get discouraged when I pay close attention to the news, reading about the squabbles in politics, crime and other negative stuff.
I feel very blessed to have these years home with my young children who are not yet old enough to let the world around them get them down.
This is why when I get a rare chance to experience a stranger’s random kindness, it makes me hopeful for my children’s futures.
The last two weeks, my inlaws were visiting us, which was a treat, but unfortunately, my baby came down with a cold, and then my 4-year-old caught it, and then it passed around to all of us. Once the boys were feeling a little better, but the adults were worse for ware, we needed to make a grocery run. So my mother-inlaw and I loaded the boys in the car and off we went.
We went to the Publix in Winder on Highway 11, and by the time we were finished, my baby was not willing to sit in the seat anymore, so I had to carry all twenty-five pounds of him, and I was feeling quite tired. Once we checked-out, we discovered it was pouring rain too.
This is when C.J. walked up. He’s a bagger at Publix, and he’s bagged my groceries a handful of times. I have noticed how he is always cheerful and extra helpful. I usually don’t need help out to my car, but last week when he took my cart and stated, “I’m going to help you to your car,” I didn’t object.
On the way out, he asked us if we had gotten our peanut butter for a penny. No, we replied, and we looked over to see a bin full of peanut butter that Publix was giving away that day for only a penny. My husband and mother-in-law will never walk out on a bargain, but as I stood there with a heavy baby, all I could think was that my pennies were in the bottom of my backpack, and my child was not going to let me put him down. As my mother-inlaw searched her bag for a penny, C.J. had already walked over to get a jar of peanut butter, bagged it, and he paid for it himself.
As he walked back, he said, “It’s only a penny!” But we felt his kindness was worth much more.
Then he stopped us at the door to pull out two large umbrellas, and he gave them to us. I had already given my four-year-old a paper bag to hold over his head as he sat in the cart. Then we took off into the rain to my car. As I got my kids into their car seats, C.J. put my groceries into the back of my car.
My mother-in-law got into the car and gave her umbrella back, and as I closed my son’s back door, I tried to hand my umbrella to C.J. No, he insisted, I needed to get around to my seat first. So I walked around the car, got in, and to top it all off, C.J. closed my car door for me as well.
As he walked away, I saw him waving to another customer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he took the umbrella over to her as well.
More than anything else, I appreciated his kindness because the simple interaction started my day off right, and this feel-good outlook stayed with me throughout the day.
One could say that he was only doing his job, but never in my life have I met a bagger who obviously works for the sheer joy of interacting, helping and meeting people. As someone who has always been a big dreamer, I’m now trying to appreciate all the little things in life and to find happiness in daily life. Last week C.J. reminded me how joyful everyday interactions can be, if we only let them. Thank you, C.J.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.