A couple of days ago, I was in line behind an elderly woman. I was getting a little impatient because all I had was a loaf of bread and some milk, and her cart was nearly overflowing. But it was the only lane that was open, so I made the best of it.
My irritation must have been showing, and I have to confess that I felt a little guilty when this sweet little lady turned to me and said, “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help noticing you look almost exactly like my son. He died a few years back in a car accident, and I do miss him terribly.”
“Er… I’m, um, very sorry to hear that,” I replied, not really knowing what to say.
“I wonder if you might do me a small favor,” said the lady. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen my boy, would you mind terribly to just call out ‘Goodbye, Mom,’ as I leave? I never really got to say goodbye to him, and it would… well… I guess it would help me to finally let go.”
It was an odd request, but frankly I couldn’t see the harm in it. So I agreed.
“Oh, thank you so much,” she said in a voice choked with emotion. “You just don’t know how much this means to me.”
And so, as the cashier rang up her final items and the lady pushed her cart outside, I did as she asked. I raised my hand and called out, “Goodbye, Mom.”
She turned around, waved back, and then walked out through the door.
A few seconds later, the cashier had finished ringing up my bill. “That’ll be $195.43,” she said.
“What???” I sputtered. “Nearly 200 bucks for a loaf of bread and some milk? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Of course not,” said the cashier. “The rest is your mom’s bill. Just before she left, she told me you’d be taking care of it.”