A personal encounter with two different economic worlds in the USA.

Its Sunday, and I’m in a small country town called Independence, Kansas – about 10,000 people.

In my car I was passing the high school when I saw a sign that said free lunches for children 5-18. Provided by the city.

I stopped and watched a family walking rapidly toward the pile of plastic lunch bags, as if they might dissolve away before they got there. Grandma led the foray, followed by mom with three scrawny youngsters under 10. Carrying one, and half dragging the other two.

Very quickly they signed and moved off with 4 decent-sized plastic lunches. Perhaps those skinny kids had not eaten breakfast. Perhaps this was the only sure meal they would have today.

I drove on, thinking how fortunate life has been to me and that I should be more aware to hep others.

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Scene from the book Hiking Toward Heaven

At Walmart, I filled up my cart, and picked the smallest checkout line. One cart already checking out, and only one cart in line in front of me. Great – this won’t be a long wait.

How wrong can you be. After 10 minutes, the owner’s credit card failed and the checker ran off to get permission for something. The folks in front of me, an elderly couple, looked back at me. The husband shook his head, and the wife rolled her eyes.

When the checker came back, the lady started trying her second credit card. She was elderly, with lots of tattoos on both arms, and I could see the poor woman was getting frustrated.

The second card failed and the checker ran off again. I had been in this situation before, and I knew what to do. I called out to the woman and asked how much her bill was. She said about $20. I yelled that I would pay her bill just as the checker returned.

The tattoo woman said no, that’s alright, this one will work, and she slid a third card into the slot. It didn’t work. I addressed the checker in a loud voice and said I’ll pay for the woman. The checker said you need to pay me now because you aren’t next in line.

As I was fishing out my credit card, a remarkable thing happened. The elderly woman in front of me handed over her credit card to the checker.

But she was beaten to it by the elderly man who pulled a twenty out of his billfold and handed this over.

All of a sudden, there were three people trying to pay the woman’s bill. The tattoo woman said thank you to all of us. And moved her cart out.

I grinned and said to the man, “I could pay for your cart, except that you have two large cases of beer, and I don’t like beer.” He laughed.

His wife said, “He only offered to pay the checker because he didn’t want to stand in line behind you trying to get into heaven.” I laughed at that.

Talk about paying it forward… four different people became involved in helping and felt better for it – one by receiving and the other three by giving. And such a small amount of money in this case, although it clearly wasn’t a small amount to the tattoo woman.

Before I walked away, the checker said to me that it was a nice gesture.

I left marveling that such a small gesture could be amplified by God into a blessing for four different folks. I wrote a book several years ago about helping someone to hope – called Hiking Toward Heaven.

Another scene from the book Hiking Toward Heaven.

BLOG TOPICS: I write in-depth blogs about a mix of topics: Science and Energy, and Inspiration and Hope, and Health and Hiking.

The Gray Nomad ….. Look for opportunities to help someone to hope.
When you provide another with comfort, when you lend a hand, or simply be there for someone who needs help, you transform the health of our country… Just one small act of kindness can make you a hero to someone else.
[Credo of Give Health a Hand.]

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Ric Shields
2 years ago

What a great reminder of Proverbs 22:9 – “A generous man will himself be blessed…”

2 years ago

Thanks Ian, for another interesting and informative blog. I always feel that I gain some useful information along with the enjoyment of reading your posts. I also enjoyed reading the additional post from the past, at the bottom of this post. Keep up the good work.

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