The young mother with four young children in tow was just ahead of me in the cashier’s line at the gas station. She was frantically searching her purse for a $50 debit card to pay expenses on her trip home for Christmas.
The children kept crying and asking for food, but she knew she had to find that debit card to pay for the $45 worth of gas she had just put into her rusty old car. They still had a five-hour drive to her parents’ house in western South Dakota. The clerk suggested using other cash, debit or credit cards, but the mother said this was the last of her trip money. She then went back out to her car to look for the misplaced debit card.
When she went outside, I stepped forward to pay for my own purchases and told the cashier I also would pay for her gas. As I reached into my purse, two other customers (who also had been listening to this young woman’s dilemma) reached into their wallets to assist this struggling mom. When it was all said and done, we had enough money to pay for her gas, with an extra $20 bill. We asked that the cashier suggest a stop at the next-door fast-food restaurant for the children’s dinner before they headed down the road again.
As we all walked out and went out to our own vehicles to leave, I saw the cashier go to the woman’s car to talk with her. The young mother then burst into tears, and her gratefulness was evident.
As I drove away from that gas station, I realized I had actually given myself the best Christmas gift possible — helping someone in need.
Share your stories of Good Samaritans, helping hands, paying it forward, and other altruistic deeds — whether you were on the receiving end or you remember the great feeling of doing the right thing. Email a 300- to 500-word article to Editor in Chief Hank Will (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we may publish it in a future issue of GRIT. Mail articles to The Right Thing, GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. The Good Samaritan involved in each printed article, if known, will receive a five-year subscription to GRIT.
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