Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Just a few nights ago, I was commiserating with a girlfriend about how rude total strangers can be. We shared stories of unhappy grocery store encounters. My girlfriend (Erica) told me how a man snapped at her in the parking lot for not putting her cart away in the corral. She had her baby with her in the car, and she had opted to leave the cart in the lot. Erica swears that she is the type of person who is always thoughtful, but in this particular situation she didn't want to leave her child unattended while she pushed her cart across the lot to the proper location. Reasonable right? Mr. Stranger thought not, he confronted her and went on about how people with children become self centered etc, etc.

I shared a similar story about an incident that occurred around Thanksgiving, also in a grocery store parking lot. In a hurry, I apparently parked too close to another vehicle. I ran inside with Evan for literally, five minutes while I picked up a gallon of milk. When I returned to my car I found an (understandably) annoyed man pacing in front of my car. "Look what you did!" he barked as I approached. "You parked me in!". "I am so sorry" I told him with total sincerity. "My fault, I hope you were not waiting too long". The man did not soften. He went on to tell me how irresponsible I was, and I think wished me to hell a couple of times.

So Erica and I agreed, people can really, for lack of a better word, suck.

And then today....

Today, I ventured to the grocery store after work with both boys. The refrigerator was on empty and we needed supplies. So off we went. Mommy still in working clothes and both boys in spiderman pajamas, since that is what our nanny dressed them in today.

The shopping trip was going as to be expected. Evan was upfront in the cart facing me. Zachary, who claims that walking through the store is too much of a burden on his four year old feet, was in the cart as well. Evan found great fun in torturing his older brother by turning around in his seat and hitting Zack in the head. Zachary was at first patient, but eventually this patience wore thin and he starting whining. I lifted Zachary out of the cart and told he could walk along side me instead. I went ahead with the shopping.

Remember string cheese I told myself. We arrive at the cheese aisle, there are a few choices. I stop to examine, I turn my attention away from the cart, from the boys, standing just feet away. Which one is cheaper? Is this really a deal, or is this just a smaller package? I am such a savvy shopper. And then. I look over just as Zachary who was standing on the side of the cart tips the entire thing, Evan and all, over. It happened in slow motion. I saw it falling, I saw the items pouring out of the cart, but more importantly I saw Evan diving down with all of the contents. Oh No. How bad was it going to be? I dropped the cheese. I dropped my purse. I ran towards them. By the time I arrived I realized, to my relief that nobody was really hurt, there was no blood, and likely no bruises, just mass hysteria. Evan was crying, the poor thing was frightened. But worse, Zachary was devastated. "Evan!!" he yelled. "Are you okay?" He said this over and over again, truly worried about his brother's well being, and it was touching. I gathered Evan up in my arms as shoppers scrambled to our aid. A man picked up our cart and started putting all of the contents back in their place. A woman rushed up and asked how we were, she went off in search of tissues and returned moments later with a stack of paper towels. Several others came over and inquired if we were okay.

I expected disapproving glances, after all I should have been watching closer, I was negligent. I got no such judgment. People gave me concerned looks and warm smiles once they realized everything was okay. There was genuine concern and care... from strangers.

My heart was warmed. My boys were fine, and to be honest this kindness of perfect strangers, it made my day...


  1. Glad to hear the boys are ok, and I'm glad to hear that human nature redeemed itself a little bit!!

  2. This is a great trip down memory lane. I am so glad no one was hurt. One of the biggest hurdles is taking two boys age 4 and 2 in your case, and aged 5 and 2 in mine shopping. It should be on mission impossible. Usually, I gave up after stunts like that and got pizza!!!! Did u manage to finish your shopping that day?

  3. The problem with ppl today is that no one is happy anymore. Everyone walks around angry/disappointed about what they the think they should have in life and/or dont have. Then taking their anger out on others.

    What ever happened to the 70's free love??

    All the world really needs is LOVE