One of Those Days

By C. Bakke
California, USA

One of Those Days

We’ve all had them: “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 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 and 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 checkout 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 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 driver’s 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 to do many nice 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 example.

Originally published as HeroicStories #262 on Dec 17, 2001

4 thoughts on “One of Those Days”

  1. This story is really great!
    It made me think of “The Chain of Love”, which I keep thinking, every time I hear it, that it should be named the official song of HeroicStories.

  2. How delightful that a single hard working cashier took the time to put some money in her pocket to help someone that was short and that one lady that she helped also went back and remembered her for what she did and gave her some of her money to carry on the tradition. We have good people in our world and it is so nice to hear about them. Reading the paper is so depressing because there is seldom good news in there. The newspapers focus on all of the bad news almost all of the time. I love watching local morning news shows because they report the bad stuff generally, but they also devote sections of their newscast to good news clips and not just one. We need more uplifting news every day in our lives and I love to read Heroic Stories because their news is good news, all the time.

  3. Christmas is coming and many people will be scrambling and stressed trying to buy enough gifts to fill their list. And yet here is an example of the value of a small gift of one dollar, given on an ordinary day, with no strings attached. We might consider, in our everyday lives, to take a leaf out of that generous and thoughtful cashier’s rule for life.

    • Yeah, I don’t think we realize enough how sometimes the little things (even a smile/frown or a positive/negative attitude) can make a big difference in someone’s day.


Leave a Comment