The Grocery

Author Lester Brown

I have been in line at the grocery store check out and recognized that a young woman with her two children that I don’t know is in front of me attempting to maintain a budget range for items that she wanted to buy as the cashier is scanning items. I wasn’t being noisy but recognized that she was informing the cashier that she didn’t have enough for some of the items in her cart and that she wanted to take some of the stuff removed from her final bill before paying.

As I looked at the things she removed, I realized that it included breakfast cereal, snacks and even apples all of which appeared to be for the two kids. I could see this because the response of the children was to ask questions like, “Momma we can’t have the cereal?”. And honestly, that broke my heart to pieces.

I don’t know the circumstances, and I didn’t ask, but I asked the woman to let me help, and I asked her to go back in throughout the store and get whatever she needed for her family. I didn’t ask her for her name and I didn’t tell her mine.

She hesitated at first and asked me why I was helping her, and I said that I am a father and that I have been at a place in my life before when I couldn’t get what I needed to provide for my family. At that point we both fought back tears.

I asked her to just let me help and to not be concerned with anything besides making sure she got what she needed to feed her family for at least a month. My only other request was that she make sure she got whatever the two beautiful little girls in the cart wanted to eat.

I did that because someone years ago helped me in the grocery store at a time when I was about to write a hot check for diapers and formula for my newborn son who is now 16. I never forgot the impact of that on my life and overall situation at the time.

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