September 19, 2008

A Tale from the Good-Deed-Doer-Guy

So I'm in Publix, with a cart full of stuff, trying to remember why I came back to this end of the store. I had something in mind, but now I can't remember.

This old Jewish man walks into the store; at least, he was wearing a yarmulke, so I assume he's Jewish. He's wearing a motorcycle t-shirt, and well-worn work pants, shuffling along in his well-worn boots. His face sort of folds into a generous white beard, but his blue eyes have a friendly twinkle. His face has familiar glazed look, and he catches me looking and recognizes my glazed look, and he shrugs and speaks to me.

"Two things I came here for. I can't remember either of them." He shrugs sheepishly, and smiles.

"Me, too. But mine was down one of these aisles...I think..." I nod at him, and roll my cart into an aisle, and he shuffles down another. No worries, old timer; my short-term memory is shot, too.

I come around the next aisle, and there he is again. He's apparently remembered that one of the items was mayonnaise. He's peering at the shelves trying to select the right brand and the right size. I'm still wracking my brains. Hmm. No, I have mayonnaise. Plenty of mustard....

"Excuse me, sir."

It's the old Jew. He's holding his mayonnaise. "Excuse me. Can I borrow your phone? I want to call home and ask the wife, but I, well, I forgot my phone..."

Smiling, I take my cell phone off my belt and turn it on (still not used to the keylock; I miss my flip-phone) and he dials while I try decide if I need hot sauce. I know I'm well into my bottle of Frank's...where is it? Footy's? Nah. Oooh, chili sauce from Tabasco, just add ground beef. Hmm. Chiiiiiliiiii. Seven spiiiiiiices. Mmmm. No.

"Hi, it's me. Yeah, I forgo- no, it's me. No. I forgot the ...I borrowed a gentleman's phone...I left mine there. I forgot it, yes. He's letting me call...listen, I'm at the A&P* - I have the mayonaise...what was the other...oh! Of course. No, I got it. I'll be home soon. No, I'll get it right now. Good bye."

The old Jew hands my phone back. "Thank you so much! Pepsi! She's pouring it over the chicken." He shrugs again, but it's clear he likes the cooking, so he's not questioning the recipe. "Thank you again!"

"My pleasure!" I say, tucking the phone away.

And it is. It's nice to be able to help out someone in need. I feel too smug about it, I know. But with all the fuss and bother over the upcoming elections, the state of the economy, the War against a Noun, it's nice to be able to reach out and do a small random act of kindness for complete stranger. He gets his soda (and a tasty dinner) and I cleanse my karma.

When I left the store, he was looking at the display of flowers, and pulled out a bright yellow bouquet; a small surprise for the missus, I suspect.

A pleasant Friday for everyone.

*We were not in an A&P; I think he was using it as a generic term for "supermarket." Kind of like "kleenex" for tissue or "Xerox" for photocopy.

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