My three-year-old son asked for a bright pair of Crocs at the grocery store, and we made a deal: be good, and they’re yours. He gently tucked them by his side in the cart and off we went down aisle after aisle living the American Dream as we debated over getting Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch — we bought both.
He upheld his end of the deal through the entire trip.
By the time we checked out, we had both completely forgot all about the shoes until he was on the mechanical horse and we were ready to leave. The cashier started ringing up the next customer when the guy bagging items held the shoes up and asked if they got missed.
“It’s okay,” I told her, “we can come back.”
The cashier apologized.
“Seriously, it’s not a big deal at all,” I said.
She had a helpless expression on her young-adult face as she looked at me and then over to my son expecting a body-contorting meltdown any second.
I turned to him on the horse.
“We forgot to buy your shoes; we’ll come back tomorrow.”
“Okay,” he said.
That’s when I heard the lady at the checkout stand quietly tell the cashier, “I’ll buy those; put them with my things.”
I turned to see a woman in her seventies with short, silver hair wearing wire-frame glasses and a white floral printed shirt. Her black sweater was draped over her arm and she held her pen steadily on her checkbook, waiting for her total.
The guy bagging the items handed me the shoes.
“Ma’am, that lady is buying these for you.”
I told her she didn’t have to do that. We would come back; it really was not a big deal.
She smiled and waved her hand at me in dismissal.
“I’ll buy them,” she told the cashier.
I thanked her twice and when my son was done riding the horse, I told him to tell her thank you.
We left, and as I was unloading the bags into my car I felt like words weren’t enough. We went back inside, but she was gone. I drove around hoping to find her, and just when I was about to give up, I saw her unloading her bags into her trunk at the far end of the lot.
I parked next to her and got out.
“Excuse me,” I said.
She turned around.
“I just wanted to say thank you again. That was so kind and so thoughtful.”
“You’re welcome!” She said.
I stepped forward and gave her a hug.
“We will definitely pay this forward,” I told her.
She smiled and said, “You make sure he enjoys those shoes!”
And I intend to.
I once read that every act of selfless kindness — one that expects neither reward nor gratitude — creates a catalyst of bigger things. That a single good deed somehow manifests itself in other people’s lives and goes on to become part of a much, much bigger plan that none of us will know the details of until the day we’re judged — for how we loved.
Even if you don’t believe in God, I’m quite certain you believe in kindness — it’s fulfilling to be kind for the sake of simply being kind.
That’s what God is; that feeling you get from selfless giving. It’s called agape, and it’s the highest form of love and charity.
I know a pair of Crocs isn’t really anyone’s idea of the epitome of love, but an act of kindness is, regardless of how big or small. I think we sometimes forget that most of love’s moments aren’t loud. They aren’t grand events. They’re quiet and soft spoken. We place importance on kind gestures, which makes them seem less significant, when all genuine acts of love and charity are equally good.
Love’s moments are in our everyday lives, existing in the smallest of deeds or gestures that are likely often overlooked: a door held open, someone letting you have a parking space, a smile from a stranger. We all give them away at various times in our lives and we are all recipients more times than we notice.
I’m certain that day had many moments of kindness that I simply took for granted, or dismissed without a second thought. But love’s loudest moment was that woman’s kindness disguised as a pair of blue and bright green Crocs.
Copyright 2018 Christina Antus