A stranger in the grocery line turns forgetfulness into a blessing

WILLIAMSVILLE — I was recently the recipient of a random act of kindness, and I want to thank the stranger who helped me.

I'd driven to the grocery store during my lunch break to pick up last-minute needs on a frantic Friday before leaving on vacation.

It wasn't until the cashier rang up my items that I realized I'd left my wallet on my desk. I could picture it sitting next to my keyboard as I tried to figure out how I was going to finish my errands and return to work on time. I still had to go to the post office to stop mail delivery before I had to teach, and the post office would be closed by the time class would end. Damn!

“Can I leave my groceries here until I can come back?” That wouldn't be until 5. I was calculating what tasks I'd have to rearrange to run this 16-mile errand again.

The cashier nodded.

The woman behind me was already unpacking her cart onto the conveyor. “I'll pay it,” she said, nodding at my purchases.

“I can't let you do that!” I said. While the items were insignificant in the great scheme of things - ground coffee, dog food, and a lunch I no longer had time to eat - the price tag was more than chump change. “Please let me know how to pay you back.” I fumbled in my purse for a pen.

Whatever she said in reply was muffled by her mask.

“I didn't hear you,” I said.

“Pay it forward,” she said. She turned to the cashier and waved her hand over the combined items. “Just add it all together,” she instructed.

“Can you at least tell me who I'm indebted to?”


“Thank you, Cindy.”

Stunned by the kindness of this masked stranger, I went on with my workday. As soon as class ended, I wrote a check to the local food bank, along with this story.

Thank you, Cindy. You turned my forgetfulness into a blessing.

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