I had an amazing experience and lesson in generosity over Christmas. It all came down to a ten dollar bottle of wine. The plan for the day was simple. I hit the road around 11 a.m. for an hour drive to my brother’s place in Los Angeles to celebrate an early Christmas together on the 23rd. Thankfully it was an uneventful and almost traffic free drive.
We did brunch, exchanged gifts and then headed downtown to do a little last minute Christmas shopping. I cannot remember the last time I went shopping this close to Christmas Day. There’s a reason I avoid stores around the holidays. Crowded isles, impatient people and long lines? No, thank you!
So here we found ourselves shopping among the masses and, yes, waiting in long lines. It just so happens a quick dash out of line to grab one more item led to letting someone else go in front of us. She was quiet and seemed distracted. In fact she was hardly even thankful we let her go in front of us.
As the cashier rang her up, he asked for her ID to go with the bottle of white wine she was purchasing. Unfortunately she didn’t have it with her. In her mid to late 50’s, she grew frustrated even flabbergasted that she needed her ID. Honestly she was obviously of drinking age, but no, the store policy persisted. So she turned to us for help, could one of us “lend” an ID? I felt immediately uncomfortable with the idea, but began to pull my ID out anyways. I know, I know, what’s the big deal?
The cashier under 21 himself had called another associate over to authorize the purchase of alcohol and she stood firm that the person buying the wine had to have an ID. “How much is it?” I asked the cashier. Ten dollars and change. Done. I’ll buy the wine.
This was perhaps one of the most rewarding moments of my whole year.
This lady who had been aloof as we’d stood in line and even seemed indifferent when we had allowed her to go ahead of us in line was transformed. She looked at me incredulously, unbelieving I would buy her wine. In a gush of appreciation tears filled her eyes as she told me she was going to cry. She shared with me how her daughter was away for Christmas and hugged me. She thanked me again and again, wishing me Merry Christmas with more thank yous, before we parted ways. Her gratefulness at such a small thing has remained with me. It wasn’t the money or the wine, but the moment of two strangers brought together in kindness and gratitude.
We never know what our moments of kindness or generosity will lead to. Now who do you think received the greater gift? I’ll give you a clue. It was me. And all for a ten dollar bottle of wine.