Yesterday I picked up a few things at Trader Joe’s. San Jose and Campbell now no longer provide shopping bags; you’re supposed to provide your own. I have a trunk full of the things, but occasionally forget. And then you pay $.05 or $.99 whatever to get a bag. No biggie. To me.
The woman being checked out right in front of me had just a few things, but no bag, and I heard her say “I guess I’ll need to buy a bag”. Something in her voice sounded ashamed. Or upset. Or otherwise ready to be hard on herself. I had, quite uncharacteristically, several bags with me for my few items, so I said, “Oh, hey, I have extra, you can have one of my bags.”
She was so surprised. And grateful. To the point of my embarrasment. And then she said, “I think that’s the nicest thing that’s happened to me all week”. And she got teary-eyed. (I thought to myself that she must have had a pretty bad week, if this little gesture was the nicest thing to happen all week.)
The bag I shared with her was from Love With Food, a great food commerce start-up, with a social good angle similar to Tom’s Shoes, founded and run by a local Silicon Valley woman entrepreneur, Aihui Ong. I took the opportunity to point out the name on the bag, and describe what the company does and stands for, and both the checker and the lady said they’d check it out. And commented on the name, Love with Food, being pretty apropos for the moment!
As I left I thought about how the little things, the things that cost you nothing, the noticing, the offering, the chiming in, can sometimes have an impact you would never imagine. I have no idea why this gesture meant so much to this nice lady, but I can only be glad that it did, and that I had the presence of mind, distracted as I usually am, to do a little thing.
Have you done any little things lately that had ripples beyond your effort and imagination?