Ever since I started the Kindness Activist project, friends have been sending me things they find online about KINDNESS. It is lovely! I really enjoy reading them, but have not featured any of the “forwarded” stories because one of the premises of the project is that I want to hear firsthand about the kindness. I love hearing about a man who feeds homeless people or a lady who saves dolphins, but I want to be able to talk with the people involved, hear their story firsthand, and then officially name them a KINDNESS ACTIVIST by giving them a button! I have tried to reach out to a couple of the people I read about online but haven’t heard back from them.
Recently another forwarded story was brought to my attention, and it was lovely. As my friend said, it brought together two of my interests: kindness and Trader Joe’s! You may not know this, but in 2015 I did a big project where I reviewed one Trader Joe’s product every single day of the year. (You can see it here: Trader Joe's 365 ).
Anyway, I thought I would try reaching out to the woman in the story, Alisen. Well wouldn’t you know it, she REPLIED to my Facebook message! J I was so excited! And she gave me permission to share her story of kindness received. I also called the Trader Joe’s where this kindness happened and got lucky enough to talk to Elise, the kindness activist!!
Here is what happened from Alisen’s perspective:
It was just another random day and I needed some things from Trader Joe’s, so we went to the Antioch, California store. I was there with my son Hank, age 5 who has autism, and my son Andrew, age 2. We also had a replacement aide named Hillary with us since Hank’s regular aide was on vacation.
Hank was not having a good day, having fallen at school. When the shopping experience lead to sensory overload we headed for the check-out. And that is where the cashier, Elise, showed such kindness to Hank. She really was a genuinely nice person. She talked to Hank and totally engaged him – taking him around to her side of the counter and teaching him how to ring groceries up. He rang up our whole cart full of things!
|Hank and Elise at work!|
It made me feel grateful to know that there are people out there that are still kind and care. No one had ever done anything like that for us before. If I had to guess, I would say that I think it made the cashier feel proud. I think that she was such a nice person that she didn't think twice about what she was doing. She gave both boys stickers when we were done, and when we got out to the car I cried. She was so caring, she just wanted to help.
I just think that people should be kind in general because you never know what another person is going through. A simple smile or what seems like a small gesture can change anyone's day around for the better! It sure did mine, and it did Hank's. In fact, he now says that when he grows up he wants to be a Trader Joe's cashier. J
|Hank - calmed down, engaged, and happily doing his job|
So that is Alisen’s side of the story, and now here is what Trader Joe’s employee Elise said about the experience (these are not direct quotes but a reconstruction of our phone conversation based on my hastily scribbled notes):
I am a mommy of 2 and kids are my passion. I worked in a church nursery for 14 years. I saw Hank had been crying and upset while they were in the store and his mom looked irritated and embarrassed. I am the kind of cashier that always wants kids to come in my lane, so I was glad to get them. I told Hank’s mom that he just needed something to do, a JOB. And that is when I taught him how to check out the groceries. Once he learned to do his job his whole demeanor changed! He told me about school and his little brother in the shopping cart.
I really didn’t think anything of it. I just try to make experiences special but you never really know if people notice. The coolest thing is that I now work with the Junior High kids at church, and that night at church the sermon was about “Compassion” - having a heart of compassion.
Everyone today is so busy and rushed. It would be good if we all just took a deep breath and thought about others.
Sometimes the “little things” are not “little”.
Isn’t that fabulous?? The cashier took time to connect, to be KIND, and it made all the difference. And the story has gone viral, which I believe means that many people will read it and be inspired to BE KIND themselves. Elise, your KINDNESS ACTIVIST button is on the way! Wear it with pride.
|Your button (yours is orange though, not pink!) is on the way Elise|
Here is a link to the original story on The Mighty about this kind experience that got my friend’s attention: http://themighty.com/2016/02/trader-joes-employees-moment-of-kindness-moves-special-needs-mom-to-tears/
Do you know someone who is a KINDNESS ACTIVIST? Have you received, given, or seen kindness? Please tell me about it! I would love to share more stories and inspire more kindness in the world. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org