The Kindness of Strangers

We warn our children: “Don’t talk to strangers.” We drill this over and over again. Like strangers are against us and we need constant protection. We build a wall. We need to think of ourselves first and stay on guard.

I was taught a different lesson the other day.

It was a cold, windy day. I had to run to Wal-Mart – what else is new???? I found a Christmas gift for Steve and it was a great price. I stuck it on the bottom of the cart and went on my way. Paid and headed out to the van.

Mark was crying because he hates cold wind on his face. The cart was ready to fly out of my hands as I was fumbling through my keys trying to hit the “unlock” button. Mark is still cursing the wind chills. I grab him and literally throw him into the carseat strapping him quickly. Now he’s upset because he’s probably uncomfortable with his winter coat all mangled up. (I hate winter by the way!!)

Ok, back to the cart. It is ready to blow away! Heaven forbid it hits our van or another car for that matter. I start putting....no....throwing my items in the back. I run the cart to the holder and high-tail it outta there.

Time to get Matt from school. Got Matt. Gotta run to Costco to get our Christmas card photos and more.

Finally home. Unload everything. Get lunch ready. Wait something is missing.....


Yes, I left it under the cart. I frantically call Wal-Mart and the customer service lady, who wasn't very sympathic, said nothing was brought in, but to call back later. I packed the boys up again and we drove out to the parking lot hoping the item was still under the cart where I had left it.

Nothing. I start to cry. Obviously this wasn’t just a $10 item!!! Matt consoles me, “It’ll be ok, Mom. We all make mistakes.” I ask for Matt to pray. We do. I feel hopeless. Stupid. You know that feeling?

Later that afternoon I call Wal-Mart. I anticipate another person telling me nothing was found. I assume someone took it because no one would care. Or would they?

“Oh....yeah....this man left his phone number and took it home. He said he wanted to make sure it got in the right hands and to call him. His name is Darrel. Here is the number...”

I laugh. Smile. Exhale! Can you believe a man I don’t even know did this? Anyone could have taken it. But this man made sure it would be alright. He cared for another stranger’s well-being. He didn't know me. He could have left it alone and went along his business.

I called Darrel. He said, “Sure. I’ll drop it off at customer service. I just didn’t want anyone to have it. No problem.” We have a laugh and I express my gratitude.

Wal-Mart called in about an hour. It’s there. In one piece. I will pick it up today.

What was almost a horrible lesson (I will always double check my cart) turned out to be a blessing and another lesson learned: Do not be so pessimistic. Go that extra mile when I see a need even if I do not know the person. Help others as I expect to be helped. I am always learning another way to be more Christ-like.

Thank you, Darrel! I owe you one!