Quick note: I am merely the witness in this short story.
Cast: Me as Me. GM = Good Mom. SK = Sick Kid. RM = Rich Man.
About 14 years ago now I was working at my local Walmart. Put in charge of watching the self-checkout on a slow day. I will admit that back then I was inexperienced with people and lazy, but my few months there had taught me a lot about how nasty folk can get.
GM comes rushing to the self-checkout with SK in her cart. He does not look well and I hear him saying as they come up “I don’t feel good mom. I wanna go home.”
GM clearly understands that her kid has become sicker since they came in and is trying to rush to get him home now. She is trying to soothe him while simultaneously fumbling with groceries and bare essentials like soup and boxes of tissues “I know sweetie, I’m sorry, mommy is going as fast as she can.”
Well along comes RM. He has on what has to be the most expensive jacket I have ever seen. Full business. Gold watch. Tie. Pricey shoes. Perfect haircut. Fit. Carrying a lot of coffee. Everything about him makes me glad this is self-checkout, because my track record with rich folk treating me bad here is almost 100%. He begins checking out directly across from GM and SK his back facing them.
Suddenly SK starts to squirm and look around wildly. “Mom! Mom, mom I need the restroom…” GM looks up from the checkout and sees SK is not going to make it through her checkout. She practically flies around the cart, picks him up… And he projectile vomits across the self-checkout all over RM’s expensive jacket.
My jaw drops. It can’t be real. As I begin to react I am watching RM. He drops his coffee and is stunned for a moment, when something I was not ready for happens.
He turns around, quickly removing the jacket, dumps it on the floor and walks quickly over to GM and SK, kneeling, because they are now on the ground, GM comforting her crying child with her eyes practically begging for mercy at this point.
RM: “Is he ok?” I walk up with towels, already on the radio for cleanup and hand him one. He uses it to help cleanup GM.
GM: “He might have the stomach flu, I just needed to pick up some things to take care of him. I’m so sorry”
RM: “It’s ok. Lets get him cleaned up.”
GM seems to finally really see the man and how he is dressed for the first time, and what happened to him, “Oh my God. Do you work here?”
RM, wiping vomit off her back while I start on the floor: “No ma’am. Just a dad myself. Hate to see a kid not feeling well.”
GM: Was so embarrassed that she didn’t really speak again other than a meager thank you as we finished cleaning up and RM helped her finish checking out personally. I helped him put his certainly ruined jacket in a garbage bag to take home and he checked out as well. I asked him if there was anything else I could do for him and RM politely declined and left the store.
I will never forget how that man reacted that day. For all his obvious wealth he was his last priority at that moment, even as a victim himself. He didn’t complain about the mess, or that he might get the kid’s flu, or his ruined jacket, nothing. And he certainly did more to help than me, the actual employee. I took this lesson to heart for all future interactions with people, and it has made a tremendous difference as I became a father myself. Thanks for reading!
EDIT: I posted this in the morning after I started seeing these stories (mostly about terrible folk, of course) on Youtube, thinking that not all of these are a negative thing, and the world is in a tough enough place as it is right now. I remember this story very well and decided to share. Since I posted from my phone, I came back to correct any mistakes I had made like typos and grammar (I found 3).
I am so extremely happy to see this has had a positive impact, on so many people. I could not have imagined so many upvotes and views. More than anything, seeing comments about those who have had an emotional reaction to this brings tears to my eyes, in the best way possible. It has, sincerely, made me feel better in these tough times for my kids future. Thank you, all.