Dear Strangers in Winco
Photo Credit Dear Strangers in Winco, I walked into the store with a skip in my step. After a few weeks of creative meals, quick runs into Safeway, and draining our pantry and fridge bare I had finally had the time and energy to meal plan. My little one had awaken from a nap, was fed, and was dry. Now was the time to shop! Shopping was easy at first. Through the produce section – Caleb smiled and cooed. Through the bulk food section – Caleb stared at all the new sights. Through the dairy section – Caleb blew bubbles and giggled. Things were going well. And then something happened. Who knows what it was. Maybe Caleb got tired. Maybe Caleb got overwhelmed. Maybe I walked one inch further from the cart than Caleb was comfortable with. Regardless of the why, it happened. Caleb’s face scrunched up into a frown. His eyes began to water. His mouth opened in a scream. I tried all the usual techniques. I smiled at him and talked, telling him everything would be ok. I rocked the cart back and forth. I made shushing noises and pulled the shade over his head to block out the lights. Nothing worked. Out of the carseat and into my arms he came. As I bounced up and down a content sigh fell from Caleb’s lips and he cuddled into me. I continued to shop, holding tight to my little boy. I maneuvered the cart with one hand as the babe rested in the other. I went as quickly as I could to finish my shopping and check out. As I was loading my groceries onto the conveyer belt, you pulled your cart up behind me. You smiled gently at me, a knowing look on your face. Maybe you were remembering your own children, now grown, and the times you had to comfort them in inconvenient locations. Maybe you saw the bags under my eyes and the exhaustion in my face and recalled your own sleepless nights caring for you children. Maybe you had never had the opportunity to have children of your own but have a heart for young mothers and the wonderful but challenging time this season of life is. Regardless of the why, you gently touched my arm and kindly asked if you could unload my cart for me. I looked at you in shock. A stranger, someone who could have been annoyed at me for holding up the line, was asking if she could help me? I stammered out a flabbergasted “Yes, thank you” and allowed you to pull out my groceries. As I paid, I thanked you again and moved on. In order to keep prices down, Winco has customers bag their own groceries. Since Caleb had calmed down, I gave him a gentle kiss, placed him back in the carseat, and began to bag my groceries. Caleb looked at me confused. He looked at me angrily. He began to scream again. By this time, dear stranger, you had paid for your own groceries. You could have easily bagged them up and headed on your way. Instead, you came to me again. “Pick up your baby,” you said gently “I’ll bag up your groceries.” What a kindness you offered me! After another sincere “thank you” I headed to my car. I maneuvered the parking lot, once again pushing the cart with one hand and bouncing the baby in the other. This time it was a man who approached me. You also smiled a knowing smile. Maybe you remember your wife coming home from the grocery store claiming she was never taking another child shopping again. Maybe you were a stay at home dad, knowing first hand the wonderful trials that caring for a baby full time brings. Maybe you had never married but were a chivalrous gentleman at heart and didn’t like seeing a woman struggling. Regardless of the why, you headed my way and asked if you could help me. You were headed in the opposite direction I was going and yet you still offered to help. Although I was incredibly thankful, I graciously declined. I was just a few feet from my car and was able to get it unloaded and the baby put in the car on my own. Even through my declining, though, I was so appreciative of your generosity. It meant so much to me. Dear strangers, thank you. Thank you for seeing the need in a young mother’s face and taking time out of your lives to offer to help. Thank you for not getting annoyed by a crying baby and a stressed out mama. Thank you for showing me that there are great people in the world – people who will go out of their way to help another. For a little while you were heroes in one woman’s eyes. I want to be like you!