The True Meaning of Christmas

A time of giving

My 18-year-old daughter, a freshman at a local university (who just made Dean’s List her first semester of college!), works part-time at Stop & Shop as a checker. She lives at home, commutes to school (I drive her since she doesn’t have a car), and in between, works at the grocery store three afternoons a week and every weekend.

On Christmas Eve, she worked the closing shift, 12-6 p.m.  All day, lines were long and customers were stressed out. Fortunately, my daughter enjoys chatting with people — she’s like her father that way — and I’m always amazed when I watch her work, a smile on her face despite her tedious job.

As closing time neared, an elderly woman in my daughter’s line discovered she didn’t have enough money — $35 in cash for $81 worth of food. Clearly embarrassed and flustered, the woman began eliminating items from what had already been tallied, my daughter subtracting each item and chatting away in her usual pleasant manner as she did so. Meanwhile, customers in her line started tapping their toes and rolling their eyes.

My daughter’s bagger, a woman in her 60s named Ron, walked down the line to explain what was happening and to soothe frayed nerves. More sighing ensued, until one 30-something customer quietly asked, “How much is she short?” About $50, Ron told her. “I’ll take care of it,” the young woman said.

My daughter then proceeded to bag up all of the customer’s original purchases, while the bill was taken care of at the courtesy counter. The elderly woman, by now somewhat awed and speechless, left the store with everything she wanted — and $35 still in her wallet.

When I picked up my daughter at the end of her shift, Ron told me the story of the Good Samaritan and how patient and cheerful my daughter had been during a tense afternoon. It brought tears to my eyes, not only because of the generosity of one customer, but because my daughter played an important part in the drama simply by being her kind, sweet self. Without realizing it, she’d added her own true spirit of Christmas.

What a gift.

This entry was posted in Chance Encounters, Small Pleasures, Working Life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The True Meaning of Christmas

  1. anny says:

    Hi Delving,

    I just browsed your blog after replying to your comment on Melody’s blog and read this story about your daughter. My daughter also worked in a grocery store when she was that age and behaved in exactly the same way with customers. Which was often not appreciated by her superiors because everything had to go fast, fast, fast … How remarkably alike they are!



    • Delving Eye says:

      Hi Anny!

      Well, I can somewhat understand people’s impatience during Christmas — and in this economy.

      The more “interesting” times are those run-of-the-mill days when customers lose it over nothing. My daughter has friends who work at the store too and the same thing happens to them. Some customers, usually women, are just plain nasty. I told my daughter they are looking for someone on whom to take out their frustrations. Some women sadly, are like that. They were the “mean” girls in high school, who grew up to be certifiable as adults.

      Now that my daughter realizes it isn’t just her, and that it isn’t her fault that some women are like that, she’s better able to slough it off. At least she knows there’s an end to her day job — she hopes! — with a college degree.

      All the best, my friend,

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