Letter to the editor: Kindness, generosity, kinship and love are alive and well

Iowa City Halal and Grocery, Iowa City

By Miriam Kashia, North Liberty

If you are paying attention to the news, you’re undoubtedly getting a major daily dose of crisis, dishonesty, corruption, conspiracy, illness, death, conflict and on and on and on. This is a tough time to be living on planet Earth, whether you have skin, scales, horns, fur, feathers or leaves. Things are not going well.

This is a different kind of story, and it’s uplifting, fun, delightful and TRUE!

Several weeks ago as I was standing in the checkout line at my grocery store (6’ back and wearing my mask), I observed that the woman in front of me was digging through her purse to try to come up with enough money to pay for her groceries. So I pulled a $5 bill from my wallet and handed it to the clerk to make up the difference. My new “friend” was very appreciative, and I felt uplifted about having helped her. The opportunity to commit a “random act of kindness” is a moment of opening one’s heart to another. And it feels so good.

I was next in line, and after the cashier rang up my groceries — about $20 worth — a young woman directly behind me who had witnessed the interaction, pulled out some cash from her wallet and handed it to the cashier and announced that she was paying for my groceries. Though I indicated she needn’t do that, she insisted and we both enjoyed the beauty of the moment. It was such a surprise and such a sweet moment for all three of us: the cashier, me, and my young benefactor. I have enjoyed telling that story many times, because it is a wonderful example of a “random act of kindness,” and how “what goes round, comes round.”

Fast-forward a couple of weeks:

I am in the same grocery store, again waiting in line (6’ back wearing my mask). There are about 15 items in my cart. A stranger walked up to get in line behind me. All she had was a small container of cherry tomatoes. I indicated that she should step in front of me since she only had one item. I invited her several times before she acquiesced and took my place in the checkout line. As there were a couple of people in front of us with grocery carts filled high, we had a few minutes to chat.

I told her about the incident related above, as I love telling it because it is such a wonderful example of shared generosity and kindness. Then my “new friend” paid for her tomatoes and headed for the exit as I was starting to check out. The cashier indicated to me that the tomato lady had emptied all her money from her wallet and there was $12.51 left after paying for her tomatoes. She had asked him to apply it to my bill.

I looked at her as she was about to leave the store, and she looked at me and we both burst out laughing. It was a moment of sheer delight. It was a “random act of kindness,” and generosity, but it was far more. In that moment, there was a mutual recognition of our shared humanity and connection. It reminds me that there is so much good in the world and so many ways we can bless one another.

The most heartfelt part of this story for me is that we were four women with various skin colors who shared a “magical moment ” of possibility in our broken world.

So to my beautiful grocery store neighbors, thank you! And know that I will be passing the love on.

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