After seeing a poor old man being kicked out of a store, a woman decided to pay for his groceries. She did this despite not having a lot of money herself, which ended up being a blessing in disguise when she received an unexpected reward a couple of days later.
Anna Collins was a 34-year-old single mother. She lost her husband to an accident while he was at work, leaving her to raise their 11-year-old twin sons alone.
The loss devastated Anna. She and her husband had been together since they were teenagers. She had no idea how to live without him while navigating the role of being a mother to twin babies.
When the twins turned one, Anna experienced yet another challenge: one of her sons, Adam, couldn’t walk due to leg length discrepancies. After consulting several doctors, the best suggestion they could give was for Adam to undergo therapy for a chance to walk properly.
By the time Adam was diagnosed, Anna could barely make ends meet. She worked two jobs, one as a waitress at a fast-food chain and another as a pizza delivery staff. While she worked, she left her children with a hired babysitter.
Although she worked day and night, the amount she was taking home was not enough to cover Adam’s surgery and the physical therapy to come afterward. Moreover, she had her family’s daily expenses to worry about.
Every single day, Anna tried to find more ways to earn more. Aside from her jobs, she would make hand-poured soy candles at home, which she would sell to her co-workers. On some days when she couldn’t sell candles, she’d only eat once a day, hoping to save money.
One Friday afternoon, Anna decided to go to the grocery to buy her twins’ food for the week. It was a busy day at the store, with customers cramming to get their supplies before the weekend.
As she lined up to pay, she noticed an older man in front of her looking confused. “What is it?” the cashier asked him. “Where’s your wallet? I already told you the total amount you need to pay,” she said, growing impatient.
The old man looked around and patted his pockets for his wallet. “I thought I had my wallet with me,” he said weakly. “I don’t know where it is.”
“Stop wasting everyone’s time!” the cashier yelled. “You brought an entire cart of groceries to the counter and now you’re telling me you have no money! You’re holding back the line! If you have no money to pay for what you got, then get out!”
The old man looked at Anna apologetically, and he looked like he was about to cry. He turned to the cashier one more time in one last attempt. “I really need to take these groceries home. My son won’t have anything to eat, and it’s his birthday.”
“I don’t care, sir. If you don’t have the money to pay for these groceries, it’s not like I’m going to let you walk out with them for free. Please, step aside. You’re holding the line,” she said once more.
Anna felt awful for the old man, who looked genuinely confused. It was as if he could not understand why he had gone to the grocery without a wallet, and didn’t know what was happening around him.
Although she knew she didn’t have much money to spare, Anna took a deep breath and decided to take a leap of faith. “You know what,” she suddenly said, speaking to the cashier. “Give him his groceries. I’ll cover the bill.”
The cashier was surprised, and so was the old man. Anna herself was surprised that she was willing to do such a thing, especially when she was already having a hard time saving up for Adam’s treatment. However, she knew it was the right thing to do, so she did it anyway.
“You are an angel,” the old man told Anna. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to me,” he told her, extending a hand for her to hold.
“I know I don’t have anything with me, but do you mind giving me your name and phone number? I want to do something for you when I get the chance,” the old man told her.
At first, Anna found it strange that he asked for her number. She didn’t expect anything in return from the old man, especially since he looked like he could barely help himself.
Despite this, she wrote her details on the old man’s grocery receipt. “Do you know your way home?” she asked him. The man stood still, looking confused yet again.
It was then that Anna realized the man was likely suffering from memory loss. “If you could just give me an address, I can take you to your house,” she offered.
Luckily, the old man had a dog tag on his neck, which had his address written on it. Anna recognized the street. It was only a couple of blocks from the grocery store.
“Thank you, sweet angel. I really appreciate you helping me. I am so forgetful,” the old man admitted.
Anna helped him carry his groceries, and they walked towards the parking lot where she parked her pizza delivery service car.
After she took him home, Anna went straight to work. She delivered pizzas the entire night and almost forgot about what happened just a couple of hours prior.
A few days later, Anna was reminded of the old man when somebody called her cellphone. The person on the other end of the line introduced himself as the old man’s son.
“I just wanted to thank you for helping my dad out the other day. You see, he has Alzheimer’s disease and had an episode that day. If it weren’t for you, something might have happened to him. Thank you,” the man, who introduced himself as James, said.
“It’s no problem,” Anna replied. “I’m glad I was able to help him. Is he doing alright?” she asked.
James revealed that his father was in the hospital receiving treatment. “I’m a doctor, so I’m doing everything I can to give him the best care possible,” he explained.
“I see,” Anna said. “I’ll be visiting the hospital soon, too. I’m currently saving up for my son’s operation. He suffers from leg length discrepancy, and he needs surgery,” she revealed.
There was silence on the line. “Hello?” Anna said.
“Sorry, I’m still here,” James replied. “It’s just that I’m one of the only doctors who do leg length discrepancy surgeries in the state, and I’ve never heard of your son’s case. I would really like to help him.”
James asked Anna to take Adam to him the following day so he could study his case, and after seeing Adam, he offered to do the surgery for free.
Anna was shocked. It was a $35,000 surgery. “You’re willing to do the surgery on my son for free?” she clarified, tears streaming down her face.
James nodded. “You paid it forward at the grocery store with my father. I want to do the same, this time for your son.”
What can we learn from this story?
Pay it forward. Anna didn’t have much, but she decided to help the old man anyway. In the end, the man’s son paid it forward by helping Anna with Adam’s surgery.
When you’re kind to others, sooner or later, your kindness will be rewarded. When doing good deeds, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. However, almost always, the universe rewards your kindness in ways you wouldn’t expect. When you can, be kind, and somehow, that kindness will find its way back to you.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about an old man who visited the grocery store with a list of things to buy for his wife, only for the cashier to find out that he didn’t have a wife at all.
This story is inspired by the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only.