Acts of random kindness are hard to come by in this busy, difficult world, but when someone does compliment you, or offers to help you with your luggage, or offers you their seat, or otherwise acknowledges that you too are a person struggling to make it through the day, well, it can improve your mood quite a bit. So it's all the more touching, then, when a person really goes out of their way to do something nice for a stranger, as was the case with one Trader Joe's cashier who gave a single mother flowers and almost made her (and me!) cry.
Redditor saviour__self shared a story on the TwoXChromosomes subreddit on Wednesday about shopping at a local Trader Joe's and revealing to the cashier that she was a single mother. "I was saying how surprised I was at getting out of the grocery store spending only $40, and I mentioned it’s just me and the kids," she wrote. "I thanked her and walked out." To her surprise, the cashier caught her outside the store and presented her with a thoughtful gift. "She ran outside with a bouquet of purple roses and asked 'you are a single mom right?' I told her yes. 'Here, these are for you.'"
Here's the full post:
Respondents on Reddit were understandably moved by the cashier's kindness, and likewise cheered the OP on for surviving single momhood with grace. "You are an amazing person and you deserve flowers every day for the massive amount of work you are juggling! Women like you are my heroes," one poster wrote. Another added, "Being a single parent is hard work, I wish we gave them the props they need. I’m not a single parent and it’s still hard! I’m so glad someone made you feel worthy!"
Others noted they, too, had experienced random kindness from Trader Joe's employees, speculating it had something to do with the store's ethos and hiring practices:
A few posters familiar with Trader Joe's employee policies noted that while being kind to customers isn't mandated, it's certainly a plus. "Having been a manager at Trader Joe's, I can tell you this is encouraged," one poster wrote. "Trader Joe's does very little advertising so they rely heavily on word of mouth ... things like this are why trader Joe's continues to expand."
A former employee who worked at Trader Joe's from 2008 to 2011 told me that being kind to customers wasn't explicitly spelled out anywhere, but was a byproduct of the company's stringent hiring practices. "I actually think that people at [Trader Joe's] just cross the line of basic human decency," he said. "But we're so conditioned to terrible customer service at every other store that it seems revelatory." He added, "TJ's also understands that food actually doesn't cost that much, so giving people things for free is worth way more in goodwill than it is financially."
Whether or not the flowers were an altruistic effort specific to Trader Joe's, or just a moment of compassion on the part of the cashier, it's always heartening to see someone going out of their way to do something nice for somebody else. Kindness is catching, both because it reminds you how good it feels when someone does something nice for you, and also it reminds you how good it feels to do something for another person. Kindness, in fact, may be the key to happiness, and when you start doing kind things for other people, you're more likely to keep doing them, which ultimately creates a virtuous cycle that may or may not encourage people to pay it forward. Then those people experience increased happiness, and so on, so on, until everybody's happy and we all get free flowers at the grocery store.