Heart Hinge–Day Eighteen

Day 18

“Creating an enriched culture of celebration for our everyday accomplishments, ordinary-yet-extraordinary life experiences, and renewed motivation for offering random acts of kindness.”

My sister Peggy and I created this site with the above mission statement in mind.  At least, that’s it in part!  [ofoneheartblog.wordpress.com   see About page]  And today’s ordinary-yet-extraordinary little heart hinge story begins at the local dollar store.  I don’t even know the actual name of it; there are so many!  We always just say, “heading to the dollar store,” and we know what we mean.

I’m one of those people who begins shopping by carrying around one or two items so I can avoid the nuisance of pushing a cart.  (You know what I’m about to say, don’t you?)   No matter where,  even at grocery stores, where two gallons of milk is about all any human can hold, I’ll start adding on.  “Joey’s birthday’s coming up, I’ll just grab a card.”  “I remember watching Hubby scrape the bottom of the Miracle Whip jar;  I’d better pick some up.”  “Ohhh, avocados are on sale!  And these are the perfect ripeness!”  So pretty soon I’m doing a juggling act and I feel ridiculous lurching along to the checkout line.  But hey!  I didn’t have to push a cart!

That’s where I was at yesterday: playing tetris with the merchandise I was hauling around.  Dollar stores are never too organized, so you just have to walk every aisle to see what’s there.  My purpose in coming here was obtaining School Supplies.  Well, to be more specific, School Rewards.  When my students hit the “Outstanding”  level on our Behavior Chart, they earn the privilege of a Taylor Treasure.  Call it incentives, bribery, or whatever you will…these Treasures are a small token of my appreciation for following directions, demonstrating courtesy, and asking depth-of-knowledge questions  (aka DOK for my fellow teachers).  My treasure box had hit EMPTY, and there it had remained for the last 3 days.  That’s not cool, when you’re trying to reinforce good behavior, to tell those eager little faces, “Maybe I’ll have something for you tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here’s an I.O.U.”

“An I. O.  what–?!”

First graders don’t get it.  For that reason, and that reason alone, I was meandering the dollar store aisles.  Give me credit for holding a little basket, though, which I was loading up to the hilt.  Here comes the really awesome part.  A coloring book dropped out of the top of my basket.  Before I could even turn around, a woman’s voice said, “Let me get that for you!”  She bent down immediately to pick it up.  I was very grateful, but also stunned.  She was really quite elderly.  I should be helping her, not the other way around. “I’m…a teacher.” I confessed, “Too much stuff!”  When I realized we were both heading to the cashier at the same time, I stepped aside so she could go first.  She declined.  “Oh no,” she said, “I’ve got all day.  You go ahead.”

I began unloading my basket.  I’d managed to stuff about 32 items in there.  I know because the total was about $32.00.  (That’s how it works at dollar stores, heheh).  While I was inserting my debit card into that little thingy, this lovely woman took a step closer to me and pushed a ten-dollar bill into my hand.  I looked up at her, thoroughly perplexed, beginning my protest.  “You take it,” she said.  “You teachers work so hard!  It’s not right that you have to buy your own supplies!  You all do it, I know!”  I thought of a hundred different things to say.  I even thought of confessing that beneath all that Teacher Stuff were a couple of goblets for my personal use.  But the gracious thing to do seemed to be to accept it with a smile.  So I did.  As I thanked her she said, “Something’s wrong with this country, when teachers have to buy their own supplies!”

Her kindness lifted my soul.  Thinking beyond stores and beyond schools, I thought about “this country.”  Who isn’t  thinking of our country right now?  Even people from other countries are thinking about our country.  And maybe no matter who becomes our president, people will still look out for each other. Her random act of kindness reminded me of all of that.

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