The following story is completely true, and I want you to please take my role completely out of it as you read it. I was simply there, as part of what was going on. This has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with humanity (at so many levels). I simply don’t know how to tell this story without sharing my role in it.
My girlfriend and I, on our last legs trying to find something we needed to finish a project, made our way into a Walmart in Taylorsville, Utah. This was last Friday. Black Friday as some people call it. Being in that store was very close to the last place we wanted to be that night, but… when the need calls for it, and all that stuff…
We found what we needed, and entered the long lines at checkout. When we got into our line, we hadn’t yet noticed that it was moving much slower than the other lines, but we soon would. Eventually, my girlfriend gasped in astonishment. I looked over at her and she just stood shaking her head, looking past me. “No one that old should ever have to work, let along on a day like this in a place like this.”
My attention immediately went to the cashier who I had yet to notice through the mayhem and bustle of people who divided us. There stood a lady who couldn’t have been younger than 80, though she looked closer to 90. The stock photo I’ve used in this post is as close to what she looked like as I could find. She was tiny and frail. Her cheek bones were sunken in. Her hands trembled as she struggled with the bigger items. She was moving at a snail’s pace, and the days exhaustion was obviously very heavy upon her.
My heart instantly broke, for many reasons. Now, don’t get me wrong. I applaud Walmart for hiring diversely and offering employment to older people who otherwise struggle to find work. The fact that she was working at all in order to survive was a sign to me of a problem in our country and with our humanity, far less than it was with your company. No, my problem with your company came minutes later when we finally reached the woman.
She began scanning our items. We only had a handful of things to purchase, certainly nothing worthy of a 40 minute wait at a checkout line, but we knew what day it was when we came for those things, too. I stopped the old woman from scanning our purchase and asked her if she could accept a gift. I wanted her to have some extra spending money. Some extra security. Some extra love. I don’t know. I just didn’t feel right having a wallet full of cash while this woman was most likely suffering to survive.
She looked at me as if to ask what I meant. I reached into my wallet and pulled out the two one-hundred dollar bills I had inside. “I want you to please have this gift from me,” I told her. “Life has been good to me.”