While I freed a shopping cart at Lowe’s, an older couple ambled over to pull one from the long line of hooked carts. The man appeared a bit unbalanced so, thinking he might appreciate something to steady him, I pushed one in his direction. “Would you like a shopping cart?”
Unsmiling, he grasped the handle with an aside comment. “I hope you don’t expect me to give you a dollar.”
“No,” I said, tensing. “Maybe a ‘thank you.’ But that isn’t even necessary. I was just trying to be neighborly.”
He harrumphed and veered away, in case I might suddenly reach over, grab a free public wipe, and literally clean his cart. With my other cashless hand outstretched.
Why would anyone think I’d beg-for-a-buck by offering a shopping cart to an elderly gentleman? (Make that a grouchy geezer.) I glanced down at my freshly ironed blouse and Coach bag. Surely he hadn’t mixed me up with someone who jumped off the curb at stoplights and squirted clean windshields with dirty water.
I pulled out my compact, flipped open the mirror, and examined the reflection. (Ah, youth is so fleeting!) Okay, maybe I was a little scary looking, but really. His response was over the line.
My inner Good Samaritan shook her head. How sad that this man seemed so jaded he couldn’t accept a small kindness from a stranger. With no expectations in return. But that was not the issue.
More depressing was my inadequate response. I should have had a funny, uplifting quip at-the-ready. Something to make him grin instead of grump off in a huff.
“Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.” At least, according to a quote by C. Neil Strait. Had I offered an unkind attitude along with the shopping cart? Not my intention. But certainly my response was less than adequate.
I found myself not so lifted by Strait’s comment. So I turned to another source of wisdom. AESOP and The Lion and the Mouse.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Whew. That’s better. I’m glad I gave him the cart…but still…I long for a do-over.