She stepped in line, just ahead of me. I'm sure she was not much older than I. However, I could tell she was tired and had obviously had a very rough life. Her eyes looked sad. She was small and thin, wearing clothes that were a bit too big. She set a diet pop and pack of cigarettes on the counter. Her voice was as soft as a whisper. Although I stood close behind her, I couldn't make out what she said.
After a few moments, she slowly walked out of the store - leaving the pop and cigarettes on the counter. Even her walk was tired.
I was going to see Jacki in the hospital and had a $5.00 lottery ticket I was going to cash so that I wouldn't have to use my debit card to buy her a coffee from the little shop in the hospital. I like to take her a special treat when I go.
"Didn't she have enough money?" I asked.
Rather disugusted, the clerk said back, "Her credit card is maxed out." It was obvious this frail woman - not much older than I, was a frequent customer.
I cashed in my lottery ticket and thought about paying for the woman's items. No, then I'd have to use my debit card. I paused for a moment, then walked out to my truck. I got in and backed out.
I pulled back into the parking lot and walked inside the store. "I'd like to buy the items that woman just left." Again acting disgusted, the clerk took my money and handed me the pop and cigarettes.
I started watching for the frail woman - not much older than I. She was slowly crossing the street so I pulled over and rolled down my window. "Here's your things." I said. Her sad eyes looked at me in a way I will never forget. She smiled - as best she could, and in her quiet voice she said "Thank you."
I was ashamed I had even considered driving away without paying for the items for this obviously sad and lonely woman - not much older than I. I hope she knows that I cared about her and even though I don't know her, she now has a place in my heart...