I walked into the battery store with a shattered iPhone (my son’s) and a four year old with a too-big flowered dress. With a store called Batteries + Bulbs it didn’t carry anything my youngest would find entertaining. But she was chatty and patient.
An old man with a tattered baseball hat, clean Dickies denim overalls and shaky hands was in line. He was the only other customer in the store. The associate rang up his purchase which came to $16.00 and some odd change. The old man said, “No, it was $12.67.” Without blinking the associate turned back to his screen and said “let’s see what we can do” and began pushing buttons.
The man turned and smiled at my youngest and asked if she would be back in school this week. My youngest is very tall for her age and doesn’t look four, so we talked again about how we are starting school when we get to our new house. She told him about her purple flowers as the store associate said “There. $12.67.” The man nodded. I recognized the nod of satisfaction. I’ve seen it before growing up in a small town with many rural people. My own father would have that same nod as he would wave to each car he passed in the country where he grew up.
We waited as the man gave a twenty and pulled a plastic coin holder out of his pocket. The same ones I remember car dealers giving as promotions back in the 80s. In fact, it looked just as worn out as the one I knew was sitting in the junk drawer in my parents house. I pictured it saying the name of the Chevy dealer we had to drive by nearly every Subday drive growing up. “Let me see if I have the change” he said. He held it out in front of him and the associate patiently took $.67 from that pouch. He took his 8 dollar bills and dropped one on the counter.
Instead of putting that dollar bill in his wallet, he turned back to us and handed it to my youngest. “Buy yourself a treat, honey” he said.” She did look back to make sure I was okay with that before she took it and said thank you.
This beautiful man with red, watering blue eyes, a wavering smile holding a carved black cane then talked about his grandchildren and how they were sweet too. The oldest now in college. Most of this conversation was between my youngest and the old man. I smiled, my heart aching for the grandfathers I don’t have in my life anymore , but thankful my children are blessed with theirs. We said goodbye and took our turn in line where the associate was just as kind and patient to us. I love good customer service. Some people just are amazing at what they do. He was one of them.
I told my son about this exchange in the van. He said the old man had walked out with a giant smile on his face. Well, sir, that made three of us. You made my day and my daughter’s day as well.
She naturally wanted to immediately spend it on a treat and a purple slushee was the perfect thing. But it was given to spend on a treat and that we did!