I went to the grocery store on the way home Monday evening. I gathered the dozen or so items I needed, and wandered checkout row looking for a short line. I got in one with only two or three people ahead of me, and proceeded to vegetate.
I was startled out of my reverie by an employee asking if I'd like to move over to the next aisle, where a register had just opened up. Of course I moved, a new queue is like the holy grail of grocery land!
I was behind one woman with a couple of items; while she paid, I unloaded my cart. Just as I finished, a little old man got in line behind me carrying only a pint of ice cream.
I told him I was sorry I had all this stuff to check out, and he only had the one item. I glanced up at the register lighted sign and realized I was in a 10-item limit express line! I hastily apologized to both the checker, and the man behind me. He was very gracious about the whole thing. In fact, he was so gracious, I told the checker to put his pint of ice cream on my bill. She protested, "but he's got exact change!" and the man nodded that he did. I asked him if he'd let me buy his ice cream to absolve my sin of taking 15 items into a 10-item line, and he gave me permission.
The checker bagged his ice cream and handed it him before ringing up the rest of my groceries. The little man thanked me profusely, and walked out of the store with a spring in his step.
The checker smiled and me and said, "Honey, you made his night. He comes in here three or four times a week to buy only that pint of ice cream, and he's always got exact change."
I got my groceries and headed down the road. I had a strange feeling that I couldn't place. It finally struck me--I was feeling that wonderful kind of happiness that one feels only after doing an unexpected kindess for a stranger. I basked in its glow for several minutes as I rolled down the road, and then I was struck by a thought: It was a shame that that feeling was even momentarily unexplainable, and I vowed then and there to do such small kindnesses at least often enough to give that feeling more than a passing familiarity in my life.