On a few occasions this year, I have rushed in the evening to Trader Joe’s or Gelson’s bearing extra tote bags to give to people who might have left theirs at home. Typically I have rushed into the store in the evening and given the bags to cashiers and asked them to pass them on to customers “in need.” There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in this act but those times my own actions felt a bit forced.
Today, I went with my son Theo to Trader Joe’s just before lunch, which meant that we were hungry and bought way too much food, especially snacks. Theo and I both love crunchy, salty treats. Today, he also insisted on buying a particular type of Brie, as he has developed a more sophisticated cheese palette of late, and I want to encourage his appreciation of French cheese! We pushed the cart up to the cashier and Theo helped to unload all the food. I positioned myself at the other side of the cashier and pulled apart my various tangled tote bags and began to bag up our loot. As I stuffed the chips and Brie and fruit into a bag, I noticed I had brought three more bags with me. Were they starting to breed? I didn’t need so many, even for today’s monster shop! Just at that moment, I heard a woman’s voice saying, “I’ll need to take a bag, I’m afraid.” I looked up and saw a woman in her thirties with short brown hair reaching into the pile of paper bags. “Here, you can have one of my bags,” I found myself saying, holding out one of my totes. She beamed at me and thanked me, explaining that she has loads of tote bags but had left them in her cupboard at home.
I finished bagging and paid for the groceries. Theo and I pushed our cart past the short-haired woman, who looked up and shouted out, “Thank you!” again. As we walked towards the exit, Theo asked me, “Is that going to be your Giveaway today?” I thought about it for a second, and wondered if I should count it. It had almost been too easy. “Sure,” I answered, thinking to myself that it was actually one of my better ones as I’d given something to someone who actually needed it, helped reduce some waste and enjoyed a warm connection with a stranger.”