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My Costco Angel

My Costco Angel

The manager made a red X on my receipt and took my carts away.


I had just moved to America from Israel (a story in its own right, but not for now...), and having to put together an apartment from scratch, I was tipped off to Costco as a good place to load up on household basics.

So after dropping off the kids at camp, between a thousand errands, I raced into Costco, looked around, and decided it was worth becoming a member.

Later I came back to Costco, started shopping, but had to cut it short to pick up the kids from camp. The store let me put my cart to the side.

For the third time that day, after the kids were in bed and my husband was at home, I returned to Costco, loaded up a second cart full of stuff, and proceeded to make my way to checkout.

Costco is very particular about what forms of payment they accept. I didn't have that much cash, our checks had not yet arrived in the mail, we don't have American Express, but, ah-hah, I did have my debit card on me.

Three swipes, but no go. My debit card, for some reason, was not accepted.

Two carts, three visits to this gargantuan store in one day, hours of my time wasted.

A manager was called over. He made a red X on my receipt, and rolled my carts away. I stood, blinking. Two carts, three visits to this gargantuan store in one day, hours of my time wasted.

Then I heard a voice.

"I'll pay for you," a woman called.

I looked over. A woman in the next line, an African American woman, was talking to me.

"I'll pay for you," she repeated. "But I'm trusting that you're going to pay me back!"

"Of course!" I said, making my way to her.

"I just saw the look on your face," she said. "And I could totally see something like that happening to me. But I'm trusting you," she said again.

The manager brought my receipt. The information was quickly scanned. My Costco angel swiped her American Express card, and charged $440.71 for my things. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers, and agreed to meet in two days so I could pay her back. I hugged her in the store. I told her she should be blessed with everything good that she wants, and that she should be the recipient of such acts of kindness.

"I'm sure you do good things for people, too," she said. "I like to do an act of kindness when I can."

Pushing two huge carts and dazed from the events, I made my way, into the parking lot and proceeded to forget where I parked my car. My skirt got caught in the wheels of the cart and I had to tear the bottom of my skirt to get untangled. I'm not usually this much of a space cadet, but I was really blown away.

Two days later, my Costco angel, Jacquie, came by the house. "My husband," she said, "is a cynic. He said I shouldn't have done it, that people show up to stores and do that just so people like me can fall for it! But I saw the look on your face..."

I gave Jacquie the money as my children looked on, while telling them about the amazing act of kindness my new friend Jacquie had done for me.

It's got to be the most important lesson in life. We think that we get ahead by taking and acquiring. But the best way to expand our world is by giving.

The ironic thing about stocking up on so much stuff is that it often leaves me with an empty feeling. After spending all that money, I yearn to connect with something more lasting, less perishable, more eternal. With enough toilet paper, paper towels, paper goods, peanut butter and aluminum foil to last us for months, I yearn to get back to the world of people.

"Now I know how we make a new friend," my five-year-old said later. "We do a kindness for somebody."

September 22, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 31

(31) Alexa Witt, June 17, 2009 9:26 PM

I sent Jacquie a Christmas present

...a gift certificate to Old Navy! I didn't even realize it was something necessary according to halacha (see comments below), I just saved her address till December to send her a gift for her holiday. I am so glad the story was a chessed as well. Alexa Witt

(30) Anonymous, October 7, 2007 1:18 PM

Overgrown Lawn

The other day my sister and I were driving down our street and we noticed that one yard was overgrown and hadn't been mowed in quite awhile. That was unusual because it is usually one of the nicer lawns in the neighborhood.

Instead of getting angry I knocked on the door and a rather ill looking person answered it. I discovered that the homeowner had been ill and simply could not do anything as hard as mowing.

My sister and I are both senior citizens ourselves and I'm in a wheelchair. We puzzled about what to do.

Aha! We had, for some reason saved a circular that someone had left on our door a few weeks ago. We called and had them mow and trim their lawn.

We told the kid who did the work just to knock on the door and ask if he could mow their yard as proof of what they could do as they lived on a corner lot and could use it as a show place.

HaShem made me do it.

(29) Libby, October 7, 2007 7:54 AM

There's a feeling about doing 'good' that is indescribable. I've been on the receiving end of lovely gestures, and it's heart lifting.
What I love to do sometimes, is to put quarters into parking meters just before they expire - and just ahead of the meter maid!! The recipient never knows what I did, but I get a great deal of satisfaction. And have left many an annoyed meter maid in my wake!!

This woman's story, while heartwarming, isn't really unique. I have found that people are just as capable of great, random acts of kindness as they are of acts of calculated unkindness.

(28) MJ, October 6, 2007 4:05 AM

the importance of testimonies like this...

This is a beautiful story about human kindness and compassion. What's great about sharing such a story is that every time someone else reads it - they too participate in the act of kindness - both the giving and the receiving and thus, the act is multiplied - at least in the minds of all of us who read your story. thanks :-)

(27) Sarah Rivka, October 5, 2007 4:49 AM

WOW! :)

That's amazing, and a great lesson for the kids! :)

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