Saturday afternoon I walked up to the Trader Joe’s near my house to pick up a few things. It’s in a little plaza with a Starbucks and Walgreens. The area is always full of people and that day was no exception. I brought my dingy old reusable grocery bag that I’ve had for a couple years in an attempt to be environmentally conscious but mostly because it is more comfortable to carry than the paper bag I would have gotten from the store. As usual, I bought more items that I planned or needed. I paid for my things, loaded up the bag and headed home. About half way through the plaza, directly in front of Walgreens on a side walk teeming with people, the bottom fell out of my bag and my groceries spilled everywhere. Luckily nothing broke and I gathered everything together but now I had a big pile of groceries and no bag. As I stood on the sidewalk wondering how I would get these groceries home, people passed me left and right and not a single soul offered to help. I just needed someone to watch my groceries for a minute so I could go get a bag or someone to get me a bag or give me one of their bags. At least two dozen people walked by me in the time I stood by my groceries. Good Lord why is no one helping me?
I had to do something so I started stuffing as many groceries as I could into every pocket I had. Since I only had shorts and a t-shirt on I didn’t have many pockets or places to put groceries. I didn’t even bring purse but rather also had a wallet to carry. I had cilantro and capers in my front pockets and fruit leather and salad dressing in my back pocket. I balanced olives and half and half and everything else as best I could as I made my way back to Trader Joes. Even as I am tucking groceries into every available crevice, not a single person offered assistance. Thank goodness they have electric opening doors at Trader Joe’s because I felt fairly certain at this point that no one would even open one for me.
I returned to the cashier that I just checked out with and explained that my bag broke and asked for a paper bag. Only at that point did someone help me. The man checking out immediately grabbed a paper bag for me and started unpiling groceries from my arms. The man working at Trader Joe’s then graded a reusable bad and loaded the rest of my groceries in that. I thanked them both for helping and asked what I owed for the reusable bag and the Trader Joe said not to worry about it but to just keep using the bag.
All I needed was a little help procuring a bag, a simple act of basic kindness that wasn’t easily found. Although my faith in people diminished a little that day, it was a nice reminder that a little time and a little kindness is all we need to make the world a little better. I hope I never walk by someone on the sidewalk with a pile of groceries.