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Brenda Schmid, Fargo, Published November 16 2013

Letter: Kindness healed my heart

To the kind man at Wal-Mart:

Sunday (Nov. 3), I was shopping at Wal-Mart on 52nd in Fargo with my daughter Hannah. When shopping with Hannah I push her in her wheelchair and pull a shopping cart behind us. We are a “small train.”

During our shopping outing, we were “huffed” at by a woman as she burned by us with her cart, obviously in a hurry; we were in her way. Rounding a corner with a truck-like turn we were greeted by another shopper. I apologized for taking up so much room. She responded with an eye roll as she backed up so we could make the turn.

Further down the aisle I said, “Excuse me” to a shopper as I shuffled Hannah and my cart to one side so she could pass. She passed without word or glance.

Hannah was unfazed by the shoppers’ behavior. She vocalized and smiled at all who passed by. You see, we tell Hannah the reason people stare is because she is beautiful and her smile is worth an extra glance, which is true.

I silently asked, “What is wrong with people? When did this world become cold and selfish?” Thankful my shopping list was short, I made my way to the express checkout lane, head high, pretending not to notice the stares. Most days these things roll off, but some days they hurt.

In line Hannah was greeted with a smile from the woman in front of us – finally a spark of humanity. Usually 20 items or less means express checkout. Not this day. The nice woman ahead of us was patient with the clerk who struggled with his till.

Then it was our turn. I placed my household necessities on the counter, reached for my purse and, BAM, the gentleman behind me swiped his credit card through the scanner. I thought he was confused, so I asked him what he was doing. He said he wanted to pay for my items. We had a conversation that consisted of “you don’t have to do that,” and his response, “I know. I want to.” I asked his name, but he shook his head. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. I introduced myself and rolled Hannah back to him and explained what he had done for us. She smiled a big “thank you.” I thanked him again for his kindness and generosity. (My merchandise cost more than $50.)

I said goodbye and wished him a blessed day. Tears rolled down my face as we walked to the van. How did he know I needed a dose of kindness? That’s the thing. You never know what others are going through. Maybe the shoppers I met that day had heavy hearts. We’ve all had bad days; no one is exempt. But not everyone gets to experience pure kindness like I did.

Some might conclude he did it because Hannah is in a wheelchair and he felt sorry for us. I’ve seen the “pity look,” and there was no pity in his face. I don’t know his name, but I know his heart. I wish he knew how he healed my heart that day.

Schmid lives in Fargo.