One of Those Days
By C. Bakke
We’ve all had them. An “It’s been one of those days” days. It starts out bad, moves to worse and then gets horrible. Everything that can go wrong, does. The sort of day where the car breaks down, the toilet overflows, the kids fight, the freezer starts making chunk-chunk-chunk noises and the cat tangles with a skunk.
That’s what I was having. As the day wore on, I started preparing dinner. Midway through the recipe, I realized I was out of salt. I grabbed my driver’s license, a single check, jumped into my car and drove to a neighborhood grocery store. Along with the salt I picked up a few extra things, and headed for the check out stand. At the register I wrote the check for the required $12.51 and the clerk bagged my items.
Then I noticed the salt — the one thing I’d actually come for — still in the shopping cart. I handed it to the cashier, “I’ll have to come back for this. I forgot to take it out of the cart.”
She picked it up and said, “It’s only 35 cents. Why not just pay for it with cash?”
I explained I’d run out of the house with only a single check and my drivers’ license. “I don’t have cash to make a phone call if my car dies on the way home — and believe me, it’s been one of those days.”
Then the cashier, whom I’d never seen before, said, “Oh, one of those days, huh?” She pulled a dollar bill from her smock pocket and rang up the salt. Then she insisted I take the change! She explained she always kept a few singles in her pocket for such emergencies. “It’s what I do to make the world a nicer place,” she told me.
I am the editor of two national magazines. I live in a big house and drive a fancy convertible. But here was a work-hard-for-a-living cashier handing me a dollar bill and paying for my canister of salt with her own money. That kind gesture turned my entire day from frowns to smiles.
A week later I returned to the store and found the same cashier. I handed her 20 single dollar bills. She immediately protested, saying she’d given me only one dollar. I explained that my own life was often too hectic and crazy to allow time for many of the nicer things, like she had done. “Please make the world a little bit brighter for another 20 people like you did for me, as a personal favor to me.”
After a bit more arguing she agreed to put the 20 singles into her pocket and let me — in a very small way — help her rescue people in a predicament. It’s little things like what she did for me that day that truly make this a brighter world, and I’ll always remember her for her example.