A Little Kindness

November 14, 2016
By , Portland, OR

After an enjoyable hour of browsing a store, my mom and I were ready to check out and go home.  However, we were delayed by a line that snaked through the checkout area and into the aisles.  Following the long wait, a certain principle was cemented in my mind:  the smallest act of kindness can turn someone’s day around.


As my mom and I had been wandering the store, we noticed the line to pay for items was increasing at an exponential rate, along with the impatient gestures and muttering of those waiting.  We resolved to get in line sooner rather than later, and people still kept filing in behind us.  We discovered that part of the issue was the lack of cashiers, but were not aware what else could be causing the extended wait.

After about a thirty minute wait, we were the next people who would check out our items.  But the customers in front of us were giving the cashier a very tough time, rudely asking more than once what the delay was and explaining unnecessarily and in great detail why they were in a hurry.  The cashier expressed her apologies, but she grew more and more flustered and seemed unsure of how to handle them.  The people were obviously becoming angry, and their sentences became shorter and they clipped off the ends of their words.  Finally, they were finished and left the store with an irritated air about them.

As we approached the counter, my mom whispered in my ear,  “Let’s be extra nice to her.”  Immediately after we walked up, the cashier began to apologize profusely, clearly assuming we would be upset with her too.  She explained that the store’s system was down, so they had to enter everything by hand, and there were only two employees working in the store.  We smiled a lot, and my mom assured her that it was not her fault and that the wait was not the end of the world.  Relieved that we were sympathetic, she visibly relaxed and began to smile.
The message was reinforced in my mind that day.  Just a small effort to be kind could have a monumental effect on someone’s day.  While my mom and I could have chosen to complain and take out any frustration on the cashier, we instead decided to be positive and friendly because we could see her day was not going as planned.  As we were leaving, she even thanked us and said she was grateful for our patience.  Events turned out in a much more favorable way for everyone because of a small act of kindness.

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