Every single time I do my grocery shopping, I seem to end up in the same checkout lane.  The first time I went through, I noticed that the young man ringing me up didn’t acknowledge me— he just focused on the groceries and did his job.  I have to admit; I felt irritated with his lack of acknowledgement since I’m a big believer in customer service. When it came time to pay, he looked up at me and read the total purchase amount.  That’s when I made the realization that he was hearing impaired. I immediately felt remorse for my hasty judgments.


As weeks went by, I became used to seeing this young man during my shopping trip. The experience was always the same; he was a man of few words but did a very thorough and quick job.


A few days ago, I went to the same store to do my shopping and proceeded to the checkout lane.  However, this time I noticed a woman working my lane.  When I edged closer to the front, I noticed that the young man was now bagging the groceries. Why wasn’t he working the register anymore?  I immediately searched for reasons why they would have moved him from checking out to bagging.  Did people complain about the experience?  The woman had to help a clerk two lanes down, so the young man jumped in to take over her responsibilities. When she came back, he quietly moved back to bagging.


The woman thanked him for taking over and he nodded. I felt compelled to say something.  As he looked up for a minute, I told him how thorough and unbelievably quick he was at his job. He looked me directly in my eyes and then smiled from ear to ear.  He didn’t lose his smile while he focused on bagging my groceries with renewed passion and energy.  It was not lost on me that he was working even harder to please me. When he finished bagging, he looked directly at me, waiting, hoping for another compliment.  Of course, I gave him one.


You see, usually I focus on watching my groceries being rung up. It’s Sunday, I’m tired, and I truly don’t want to think or say much. I’m thinking about other things and frankly, I’m off the clock.  I’m sure many of you can relate to this.  However, on this particular day, I looked into the eyes of someone that desperately needed some validation.  Today, I scanned the face of someone that just needed the affirmation that, in the whole scheme of things, the work they do truly does matter.  Their work has value.


We often underestimate our own power to make a change in the world around us.  Can we really make an impression in someone’s life with just a comment or a look? Can we really make a difference in someone’s universe in a couple minutes of time? The answer is yes.


This holiday season, don’t get so bogged down by shopping, entertaining, and gift-wrapping that you miss the true point. Make someone’s day with the best gift you can give— your kindness.

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