Friday, July 20, 2012

Lynda Grace and The Food Angel

She was little and old; very very, old.   Puffy snow white hair framed her face.  Time had been kind to her, though; for the lines etched on her face were gentle ones.  They were kindness lines and smiley face lines.  And there was something vaguely familiar about her.  
Her gnarled hands were shaky as she reached into her cart and tentatively placed her groceries up on the belt.  
The young cashier robotically passed each of her many items over the scanner.  The equally as young bagger paid little attention to the woman; obviously more interested in hearing the dramatic tale of woe being told by her co-worker.  I was annoyed at the bagger for handing the woman her packed bag instead of placing it in the cart for her because the woman was clearly having difficulty managing that.  
By the time I got in line she was almost done checking out.  Her basket was overflowing with groceries in “green” red bags.  “That will be $258.98,” said the cashier.  
She opened up her purse, you know one of those old fashioned ones with the snap closures, and took out a worn leather wallet.  One by one, she slowly counted out three one hundred dollar bills.
I was so curious about her.   I wondered why she was buying so much food.  I thought of several scenarios.   She probably lived with one of her kids and she contributed by doing the food shopping.  Maybe she was stocking up her pantry for the “Grandma’s Back Porch Cafe” that she has been running for  the past 60 years.  Or perhaps she was a food angel, buying and delivering food to those in need.  
She thanked the two girls.  I wasn’t sure why she was, thanking them that is.  But I guess that’s what food angels do. 
I thought, of course, that the cashier or bagger would offer to help her out to her car because she could barely push her cart.  But they didn’t.
All the while I was checking out, I kept thinking about the woman.  I finally realized the reason she looked familiar to me was because I identified with her as a not too distant future mirror image of myself.  
There is more to this story.  I hesitated about telling the rest of it, though, because I am not happy about it.  But, this is my blog.  It is the place where I try to take a long hard look at...well me. 
So, after I left the store, loaded my groceries into my car, and started driving towards the parking lot exit, I saw the old woman.  She was still there having a hard time getting her groceries into her car. 
And I thought about stopping.  I really did.  But I didn’t. I didn’t stop to help the food angel.  What stopped me from stopping?  
Since then I have done a little self analysis about the incident.  Okay a lot of self analysis.  
I figured out that my shyness and trust issues took precedence over my basic instinct to help someone in need.  The saddest part is that I let the opportunity to help a person with whom I had empathy pass me by. 
I just know that I would have left that parking lot with a smile on my face if I had stopped to help the food angel.  
And that’s the lesson I learned. 

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here are the past few days from Anna’s diary:
Wed., July 17, 1929
Received word from Princeton College that Bill passed his entrance exam unconditionally.  He won four year scholarship at $1000 a year for Princeton for 4 years.
[Bill is Anna’s brother.]
Thurs. July 18, 1929
Jewel got news today that she passed the “Bar”. Lunched with her and Edythe.  I went to 360 to get a big chicken dinner ready as Ma is away to shore.  Celebrated for Jewel.
[Jewel is Anna’s sister.]
Friday, July, 19, 1929
Met Jewel and Edythe for lunch.  Had a talk with J. regarding E. affair.  J. is going to ask Mr. F. for advice about it.  He suggested talking with both E and C.  She agreed.
Sat. July 20, 1929
Home all day.  Went to see Grandma M with Baby.  Had supper.  Her bad day.  Went out to visit her friends.  Came to 360 with me afterwards until 1:30.


  1. Enjoyed reading your story. When I was a kid for years I worked in King Kullen.  I rang, and packed all groceries.  I would go around the counter and pack people's shopping carts they brought from home.  Now, here, I see kids scanning, and hacking and waiting for me to bag my own groceries.  I, ALWAYS assist, as I know it gets tiring, but watching them WATCH me and not help is annoying.  I am sorry they didn't assist the elderly woman.  But then again, I see the same kids not giving up their seats on the subway.      I was thinking about your situation, and know sometimes I offer assistance to the elderly and they don't want it.  Sometimes they feel bad I offer, but all I can do is offer.  Shyness is definitely what held you back I am sure as you are so kind to notice her in the first place.

  2. You know what it’s like from the other side of the register.  And it sounds like you were trained well in good customer service.  
    I know exactly how you feel.  I always pack my own, and sometimes wonder why the cashier stands there watching me after he/she is done ringing up my order.

  3. That was a great story, and I can see why you didn't stop, since Im also very shy!

  4. Good story. I've had similar opportunities to assist others, and not acted, and then been remorseful. I think it's part of our human condition. Maybe next time you'll be braver! You're the best blogging angel I know! I've been quite busy on the farm lately, watering everything and taking care of livestock due to the drought. I've missed reading your blog!

  5. Hi Holly,
    Good to hear from you.  Gee, I hope the drought ends already for you.  I miss reading your blog too :)

  6. Thanks.  I think I would definitely stop the next time I feel that strong instinct to do so.  The gratification one gets from helping others is something I know you are quite familiar with.  

  7. I appreciate your honesty.  I've often thought that , as we age, we become less and less visible to the younger generation.  Sad, because we could learn so much about life, and ourselves, if we paid attention.  

    That Jewel is a saucy little number, I bet.  Wish we could find THAT diary!