I’m at Walmart in the midst of another one of my lengthy selections of the perfect navel oranges, knocking several off the display and sending them rolling across the floor of the produce section. As I chased them down, I looked up to see
a little old man an angel in his mid-70s riding on a motorized cart, smiling at me. I smiled back at him, and he asked “How are we doing today?” I replied, “I’m okay. You?” He looked down and said, “Well, I was fine until I realized I can’t get the pictures from my phone printed. I’ve been here two days in a row, hours at a time, and even bought one of those USB cables they told me I needed. Nothing. They can’t get it to work.” I couldn’t help but see the look on his face was both dejected and sad, suggesting this was more than just an inconvenience to him.
Determined to help, I suggested he text them to someone else and see if that would work, and he looked at me with a blank stare. I asked him if he had his phone with him, and he handed it to me. Over the next 45 minutes, I went from trying to explain to him several ways he could get his pictures, to attempting to text them to myself. Throughout all of this, the little old man I learned to be William informed me the pictures were of his wife and dog, both of whom had passed away in the past several months. They had been married for 57 years when she passed away, and now he was all alone.
A sap to the core, tears instantly formed in my eyes, and I was even more determined to fix this for him. After several failed attempts, I told him he was really going to have to trust me and allow me to take his phone home with me. I promised him I would get his pictures for him somehow. Tears came to his eyes as he talked of his wife’s final days, which of course caused even more waterworks on my end. He told me how much he appreciated my help, and I told him I was more than happy to do this for him. I took his phone and address information, told him to go home and get some rest, and that tomorrow, he would have his pictures.
To make a long story short, that was only the beginning. When I arrived home, nothing would work. His Tracfone wouldn’t show up on my printer or my computer, and the text messaging wasn’t working. After several hours of troubleshooting, I found Tracfone’s customer service number, called them, and they reset the codes for me, assuring me that, in 24 hours, it would have restored text functioning. It was nearly midnight before I dragged my stubborn self to bed. The next day, I was able to text the pictures to myself and print them for him (after several more roadblocks, of course).
With a very proud grin and HUGE feeling of contentment, I drove William’s pictures to his home about 35 minutes away, excited to have been able to help him. He told me to come on in, as he was handicapped and had a difficult time getting to the door. I handed him his stack of pictures, which he took with a shaking hand, staring at the images. He smiled happily, tears in his eyes, as he flipped through his pictures, thanking me many times over. When I told him the pleasure was all mine, he responded with “You are an angel. Can I do anything to return the favor?” I smiled and told him “You just did. That smile on your face is all I need.” William looked down at the pictures in his lap and went on to say “I was telling my nephew on the phone about you , and how I wondered why you wanted to help a complete stranger like you did here. You really are an angel, I hope you know that.”
Words do no justice in expressing how both grateful I am to have had the opportunity to help that dear man, and to see firsthand how my actions reached him. Often poked fun at by family and friends for my “stop and talk to random strangers” antics, this time I’m especially glad I took the time away from my planned “quick” trip to Walmart. I’ve often wondered, had I not been there, who would have helped this sweet old soul? Brushing that thought off, I’m simply grateful we crossed paths in what started as a simple orange gathering, ending in a priceless memory I will cherish for the rest of my days.
I always try to take the time to stop and listen to people, smile, hold doors, etc. You never know what these simple gestures that require nothing more than just a few moments of your time can lead to, or what it could possibly mean to someone else. It may be the only light in their day, or act of kindness they ever receive. Whether it is lifting someone up, encouraging them, or even just putting a smile on their face…no effort is too small. I strongly believe that no person is left unchanged by any act of kindness or helping. I may never see the end result or receive validation for my actions, but I don’t need to. I have faith, and know firsthand, you will never know the differences you can make unless you take the time to try. You could end up restoring someone else’s faith, even your own. That’s the power of the human heart. Priceless.
P.S. I’m not encouraging anyone nor do I plan to make a habit of venturing to stranger’s homes…and am always fully aware of and listen to my gut feeling.