Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Peace of Mind for Fifty-Eight Cents

It is one of those moments where my children don't realize they are one screech away from being snatched bald-headed by their sleep-deprived mother. One of those moments where none of the six people in line behind me at the check out stand had better even THINK about rolling their beady eyeballs or I will snatch those out, too. It is one of those moments that is one snide comment away from becoming a story on the local evening news.


One of THOSE moments. Yeah.


I should have known better. The baby was a tad fussy and my oldest had decided he would have one of his split personality moments where he goes from being Mom's helper to his brother's tormentor because it's fun. But I thought, "No, we're by the Michael's, I have a gift card, we need those magnets and I have no idea when my children will allow me to leave my house again."


So we went to the craft store in search of magnets for a project I (optimistically) planned for James. Within seven minutes I had grabbed the cheapest magnets I could find and made for the cashier like a hooker for the church exit because two of my children were wailing like banshees. The line was short so I tossed my magnets up on the counter and whipped out my merchandise credit. We only had to keep it together for a minute longer. . . .


But that minute was stretching my last nerve to the snapping point. I wondered if it was too late to stick the two screaming little ones in the Halloween display as part of some hideous nightmare tableau. You know . . . two screaming babies with a sign painted to look like dripping blood: Welcome to Hell.


Anyway, we were almost done when there was some kind of problem with the store credit. The machine wouldn't read it and the cashier couldn't make out the numbers to type them. She huffed and puffed and I nearly blew her house down (I don't know what that means) because the line behind me was suddenly getting longer and I don't know if you know this or not, but THEY ARE NEVER IN A HURRY AT MICHAEL'S.


Just when I really thought I was about to lose it, the huffy puffy cashier got the register to take the card and I held onto my sanity with a tiny shred of a fingernail. Then the total came up.


I was fifty-eight cents short.


I didn't have any cash. Not even two pennies to rub together. So with the very last ounce of my willpower, I gritted my teeth and began digging for my credit card to put the stupid fifty-eight cent charge on it.


Then the lady behind me, a woman who clearly had children and grandchildren of her own, reached over and handed me a dollar. "Let me help," she said.


I did. And she did.


And just like that, fifty-eight cents turned my entire day around. Not just because something finally went right or because someone who could have huffed and puffed and rolled her eyes and shifted from foot to foot in annoyance over my screaming children and cash register issues . . . didn't.


It's because she took it a step further and she showed kindness and understanding.


And I felt so happy. I wasn't braced for the disdain of the people behind me anymore. My problem was solved with a simple little gesture and knowing someone wanted to do something nice for me . . .


Helped.


And I was kinder and more patient with my children for the rest of the day.


I keep trying to remember to pay it forward. Turns out fifty-eight cents pays off pretty big dividends.

32 comments:

Melissa Bastow said...

I run away from my kids to go to Micheals. But if nice, helping, paying ladies lived here too, I might risk taking them.....maybe. I'm glad your day got better. I never think to help out people when they're in situations like that - I have this horrible response where I just laugh at other people when their children are screaming. It's pretty bad. I think it might even be a social disease of some kind, because I can't see to NOT do it. I should really work on that.

Kristina P. said...

I wonder if that would have happened at Hobby Lobby?

LisAway said...

Awesome. And so is the idea to pay it forward. Seriously, how hard was that for her? And she made a HUGE difference, not only to you, but to everyone you deal with for the rest of the day.

I remember once when I was nannying in Maryland the people in line watched ahead as the cashier lady stormed through every transaction. She was being ridiculous. We were all a little shocked. When it was my turn I was all prepared to be sarcastic or at least to comment on her attitude or SOMETHING so she would know that the customers didn't appreciate her behavior. After I paid, I said, "Thanks. I hope your day gets better." Which is not AT ALL what I had meant to say. I couldn't believe how she softened so suddenly. She gave me an exasperated half smile and said, "Thank you." And that was my fifty-eight cents, I guess. Hopefully that helped her a little, but I sure felt better for the rest of the day!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh that is sweeeeeeeeet. And so well written! You go, girl.

Susan said...

Oh my gosh, I had a day exactly like this. Bad, bad, BAD! And then one person turned the whole thing around for me.

Thank goodness for those kinds of people. I'm glad that lady was behind you in line.

Happy Mom said...

Aww! That's beautiful!!! I want to do that for someone today!!!

Sarah said...

What a lovely story. The same thing happened to me the other day, only instead of 58 cents all she had to do was talk to my screaming baby. He calmed right down and I was able to pay for my groceries and deal with the OTHER little boy. :)
How wonderful others can be when they are understanding and want to help.

Becca said...

I want to be her. That's my goal for the day. I'l make sure I'm packing a little cash with me.

NIKOL said...

You are so right about them never being in a hurry at Michael's. I was in there to buy orange sprinkles the other day because the grocery store was out. Just one, tiny container of orange sprinkles. I walked into the store, selected the sprinkles, and was at the counter in less than a minute.

It was almost 15 minutes before I left the store. Sometimes I hate that place.

Alison Wonderland said...

And that (the first part) is why I never take my kids anywhere. But you're right, sometimes 58 cents is worth a heck of a lot more than 58 cents.

MommyJ said...

I love nice people. I had a guy leave ten dollars for me once, to help pay for my groceries, because I had let him, and his two items go ahead of me, and my monster huge cart full of food. I still think about that guy, and how nice he was.

Heidi said...

I love this story! And I am so glad someone was there to help you out. I really dislike people who are impatient with mothers and their children. I remember one time when I felt exasperated with my two year old and it was showing in my voice and the check out gal said, "Someone's having a hard day!" It didn't help. But one day you will be the woman behind a frazzled mother with fifty-eight cents worth of understanding to offer and that is worth a million.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Love this post Melanie. Believe it or not, I shed a tear or two. This post has made me think about all the different times in my life that people have helped me. I hope that I can pay it forward. Thank you for this much needed reminder.
Glad that the little token of kindness made your day brighter!

Annette Lyon said...

Thanks for the reminder that doing good things doesn't have to be large and mighty to make a real difference.

L.T. Elliot said...

Dude, I'm teary after that one. What an excellent human being to do that. So glad you had one of those defining moments of grace. They're life-savers. (especially for my kids because I won't actually kill them.)

Melinda said...

Okay the visual of screaming kids and the sign "Welcome to Hell" is SPOT ON--I know EXACTLY what you're talking about! My kids are so not "store goers" they're terrible to take anywhere. I'm SO glad that woman was kind, thanks for the reminder, I'll be on the look out to pay it forward the next time I get courage to go out in public. :)

Charlotte said...

Cool story. I've always been surprised how just a little thing can make a huge difference. I try to pay forward all those 58 cents I've received over the years.

Wonder Woman said...

Love. This.

p.s. I almost always save your blog for last when I read blogs because I want to end with something good. You know what commenting's like right now what with babies and moving, but know that I'm reading and loving.Bait

Kimberly said...

That was beyond awesome. That she did that, that you LET it turn your day around, that you wrote an awesome blog post that will spur on more paying forward. Awesome.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm pretty sure it's company policy for Michaels to be on the slow side. You know, remind us that we don't have to be in a hurry ALL the time or something...

Anyway, I'm so glad that lady helped you out! I try to do things like that for people, but I admit that sometimes I'm guilty of the eye-rolling. NEVER at anyone with kids, though, because I totally understand!

That Girl said...

Um, wow.

So I was getting all worked up and stressed out right along with you, and then ...

wow.

Life really is awesome, isn't it?

Kazzy said...

Oh, what a n honest and sweet post. People who do those things don't even know the whole back story and how much that little gesture could mean. Awesome.

I seriously try to think, "I have no idea what that person may be going through today" as I get cut off on the road. It doesn't always happen, but it has helped me to mellow out a bit more in tense settings.

Amber said...

Wow. Melanie, this is beautiful. A wonderful recount of an obviously impressionable event.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

This is a great story, Melanie. It reminds me of what President Monson talked about at the RS broadcast-- not judging, but loving. Showing charity and compassion. Good stuff, I tell you.

wendy said...

Oh, that is so nice, I love this post. I get it. And lately anytime I find a frustrated helpless?? mom with trying to
"hold on" to her sanity with little kids, I try and help out and Not ROLL MY EYES
I have been in the presence of my own daughter and her 2 little girls, (one being particlarily challenging in that she thinks she totally want the world at her command....she will get that some day I am sure) and how hard that has been for MY daughter

I remember,,,,just help, it is much easier then rolling your eyes and huffing and puffing.

ah 58 cents.............what a virtue eh.

wendy said...

Oh, that is so nice, I love this post. I get it. And lately anytime I find a frustrated helpless?? mom with trying to
"hold on" to her sanity with little kids, I try and help out and Not ROLL MY EYES
I have been in the presence of my own daughter and her 2 little girls, (one being particlarily challenging in that she thinks she totally want the world at her command....she will get that some day I am sure) and how hard that has been for MY daughter

I remember,,,,just help, it is much easier then rolling your eyes and huffing and puffing.

ah 58 cents.............what a virtue eh.

Terresa said...

58 cents, that can go a long way. What a wonderful story, have you thought to write that up for the Ensign? It's share-worthy, for certain.

And has encouraged to me look past my own nose today (hard, some days) and see where & when I can pay it forward. :)

Kim Coates said...

I laughed. I nearly cried. I love this post. It warms me to hear about people doing wonderfully thoughtful things for others. Your posts are always so wonderfully refreshing and fun! Thanks!!

And yes, I HAVE noticed the "no hurry" thing at Michael's. I don't understand it! I don't shop there often, but every time I do the line moves SO SLOW!

Lesa said...

Little things do turn the day around. Great post!

(coming from Serene's link-up)

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

LOL! I totally loved your descriptions about your kids, Micheals, and the people around you. So awesome because I have felt the same way multiple times!

I'm so glad you linked this up! It was the perfect story!

iamwoman said...

I love this story because it is SO normal--and so intensely true. I can relate to it, for sure;)

GREAT blog you have here!

Anne said...

I love that it was such a small amount of money, but made such a big impact on your day. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing!
(I came over from Serene's blog)