I inserted a quarter to release a shopping cart at the Patch Commissary.
With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, I wanted to get a head start on my shopping.
The lock popped out, and I began to pull. My momentum slowed as I tried to pry the cart from the connected string of others. Soon, a kind lady began helping me. “I’ll lift, you pull,” she said, rescuing the moment.
We worked together until it was apparent to us both that we simply could not get this cart free. The problem was not the coin, the chain or my cart; it was the other cart, which held on tightly.
With this realization, we smiled, sighed and I moved on to another — this time with success. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” spun through my mind as I said thank you to my comrade and went on with my shopping.
I gathered up enough barbecue fixings to feed a small army, paid and proceeded to the exit door with my cart. Returning to the cart station to drop the cart off and retrieve my quarter, I noticed a small group of folks about to take a cart.
“Pay it forward” quickly ran through my mind.
“Do you want this one?” I asked.
The family of four all looked at me with confusion. Trying to be clearer, I said, “Can you use this cart? Don’t worry about the quarter — really, no problem.”
Thank yous were exchanged. I helped them, they helped me, and the call to action behavior that I had learned earlier felt good as it settled into my bones.
The little things that we can do as “strangers” have the possibility of igniting a greater happiness: a friendly smile to someone you walk past, the gesture of holding the door for the one behind you.
We can be so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we may not consciously notice someone else’s need, but when we do notice and act … what a difference we can begin to make.
Now, each time I dig to find a quarter as I enter the commissary, I will remember the lesson of kindness taught to me by a courteous stranger, a 25 cent piece … and the cart-hand-off.