In my early to mid-30’s I dated dirt-bag boy. I could think of another “d”-bag to call him but I’m being nice. He was a year younger than I was and just a crab-ass, old fart. Very negative attitude about people in general. “Everyone’s only out for themselves, “why be nice to anyone, they just want to screw you over”, “people are ass-holes, deal with it”, “no one ever does anything nice for anyone unless they have an angle in it to serve themselves”. You get the picture, bitch, bitch, bitch, negative, negative, negative. Hindsight is always best and all I can think of is that I just must not have liked myself very much at that point in my life.
One Sunday night in January circa ’95 I had $52 . I had to go to the grocery store. I didn’t work again until Tuesday night so I needed enough food for the kids and I for Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday. I also had to pay Samantha’s $25 fee for Daisy Girl Scouts on Monday. Dirt-bag boy was over and so came with the kids and I to the grocery store. Half way through the grocery store I realized that I was going to have to spend all $52 dollars to get what was needed. When I got home I’d call Rob and see if he could spot me the $25 for the Daisys or I’d have to put that off another week. We got to the register and it was totaled up and I think it actually came to a little more than $52 dollars so as I was reaching for my wallet I was also scanning everything to see what could be put back. Dirt-bag boy never had any money, he wouldn’t have been able to lend me a cent that I had gone over. Very quickly I had to quit looking at the food to put my full attention into finding my wallet because it just wasn’t making an appearance. Emptied my purse, checked my pockets, ran back to the car, looked in the snow….nothing, no wallet, no $52 dollars.
If you’ve read my story on meeting Erwin Hensch and my visible reaction to that maybe you will understand that I had a very visible reaction to my wallet being gone as well. No wallet means no food, not an option…I have children! The manager took me up to the office and asked me questions such as “did you leave your purse in the cart and then leave the cart at any time?” Well yes I did and yes I did but it would have only been for 20 seconds and no one was around. Well that was the end of it for him. My wallet was stolen, nothing could be done. Really? In 20 seconds when no one else is around? It was gone, that was a sure thing but I wasn’t convinced it was stolen. However, the manager was positive it was so that was that and I was pretty much dismissed. Right, and of course dirt-bag boy is there doing the whole “see? I told ya, people are ass-holes, they only care about themselves, you’ll never see that again and this should teach you…blah, blah, blah” . Too stunned to listen, tuned him out. Was already trying to come up w/a way to maybe get a babysitter for Monday and seeing if I could pick up a shift….borrow from Rob…the kids have got to eat….
We are now leaving the grocery store. I’m still lost in my head trying to come up with an alternative and the cashier stopped me and said “hey, take your groceries”. Tears came to my eyes as I informed her that I couldn’t, I hadn’t paid for them. She told me not to worry, it’s taken care of, just take them. What? What? I don’t get it. “It’s taken care of” she repeated “these are your groceries”.
Driving home I was still lost in my head trying to figure out everything that had just happened. Dirt-bag boy was still blah, blah, blahing and I was still just tuning him out. The only thing I could think of was that the store manager felt sorry for me and wrote it off. What didn’t make sense in that scenario was that the guy just wasn’t very nice or personable. So anyway, I didn’t get what happened or why so I drove home. Once home, the kids and I were putting the groceries away when the security buzzer for our apartment buzzed. I pressed the intercom and asked who was there, they asked me if I was Jacqueline Austin. That’s never good because no one calls me Jacqueline except my parents and that’s only occasionally. This is me having hung out w/dirt-bag boy for too long. I hadn’t done anything illegal, although I probably didn’t have car insurance, anyway I looked out the window to see if it was a squad car. Okay, no squad car, yep, I’m me…”we found your wallet” was all I heard before I was flying down 32 stairs to open the door myself instead of buzzing them in. What stood before me when I whipped that door open was a couple my parents age. I hugged them so tightly and then did that again and let them know that I would have loved to have given them a reward but that I had to pay the grocery store explaining that they had given me my groceries since they thought my wallet was stolen. I love them! Apparently they had picked it out of the snow between the parking lot and the store. I got their names but of course these many years later I don’t remember. I can still see their faces, that’s more important to me :o)
I walked back up the 32 stairs and called the grocery store to let them know that my wallet hadn’t been stolen and that I can come back and pay for my groceries. Of course dirt-bag boy is having convulsions. Why in hell would I do that when I could have my groceries and my $52 dollars? Well, dirt-bag, apparently your parents didn’t raise you correctly. My parent’s raised me to do the right thing. I called the grocery store and they asked me what I was talking about. I reminded them that I was the one who lost my wallet, the one w/the 3 kids in tow and couldn’t pay for my groceries and they had sent me home with the groceries anyway. They put someone else on the phone and I repeated my story and that person informed me that they hadn’t picked up the tab, an anonymous shopper had paid for them. Wait, what? Tell me that again….
Apparently when I have a visible reaction to something, it’s VERY visible. Somebody at the store had caught on to what I was going through and paid for my groceries. Dirt-bag boy’s jaw dropped and I sent him home for the evening.
This is still amazing to me and this is what makes me still believe in people. Poor single mom w/3 kids and 2 random acts of kindness in one night. I probably went to bed that night with a smile AND a smirk on my face. People are amazing and take that dirt-bag.