Everyone struggles one way or another, however it does not mean we shouldn't help one another in need. These cashiers recall the moment when they saw a stranger struggling and instead of ignoring the situation, they decided to do something about it.
The content was edited for clarity.
“I worked nights at a gas station. There was this guy who pulled up at two am in a limo with his wife and kids. The kids were teenagers. His hands were scarred from years of construction work. They were stopping to get some snacks and drinks for the ride up to Tallahassee. He just won the jackpot.
They were the happiest family you could ever imagine. A total rags to riches. His card got declined.
He said, ‘So what I still got a little cash in my wallet. Tomorrow I’m a millionaire.’
Then he looks at his oldest son and says, ‘And you can tell Juan to get lost. You ain’t cutting nobody’s grass anymore. I’m buying you a house and Juan can mow your lawn, but now you gotta go to college and get a degree.’
He paid and they left. The gas station was a truck stop pretty much halfway between Miami and the capital city of Tallahassee.
He had won the Mega Millions as the only one to get all six and the bonus. While his family was picking out their snacks he told me they were on the way to Tallahassee to collect the prize. He showed me the ticket and it was real. I even checked it against my lotto computer and the message came back for him to make contact with the gaming commission in Tallahassee. It was legit. He won 34 million bucks I think it was.
The next day I went to bed when I got home in the morning. My wife was at work, and my baby boy woke me up because it was time for his bottle. I change his diaper and start his favorite event at the time. Bottle time. Then I turn on the TV. I watched the news and my jaw hit the floor.
The guy went to claim his prize and upon the standard ID check, it was determined he had overstayed his residency without renewing his permanent resident alien card. Therefore he did not meet the legal residency requirements to collect the prize and forfeited it. I felt so bad for him and his family. I can only imagine how crushed they were.
She Tried Her Best To Help Him
“While working at a Chiropractic Clinic, an older gentleman came in, clearly struggling physically and in need of some help. He was slow-moving, hard of hearing, and looking for some help. My heart went out.
I proceeded to get his information and process paperwork in order to see the doctor. I helped him fill out the paperwork, noting a bit of confusion on his part. I did as much as I could for him. When it came time to pay for the appointment before seeing the doctor, .his debit card declined. I felt bad for him as no other forms of payment were available.
In my mind, I was adding up my bills and ability to pay for this appointment for him. I was not able to.
Lowering his head, he turned away from me and left the clinic. My heart ached for him. I had hoped he would one day return and perhaps circumstances would be different.”
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
“I worked as a Barista in a coffee shop, across the street from a park and upstairs from the Subway station.
As a result, we saw many homeless people come in to use the restroom or get out of the cold.
I first met David while I was sweeping the lobby. He came up to me and very quietly asked if there was any food in the garbage that he could have. That he was homeless, and a veteran, and hungry. He would work for it, he assured me, he would sweep and mop and clean the doors of fingerprints. But he had no money to pay. He said he was sorry to have to ask. He would not make eye contact, instead of staring at the floor, at his broken shoes.
It was February in NYC. The snow was on the ground outside and the air was bitter.
I replied, ‘We don’t have anything in the garbage. But we do have fresh coffee. What do you want? On the house,’
He finally made eye contact. He had clear, blue eyes. He looked surprised and said, ‘Let me work for it, at least.’
I told him, ‘Tell you what. What did you say your name was again?’
He answered, ‘David.’
I said, ‘Tell you what, David. You hang out in the lobby. When we’re ready to close, anything that has to go out is yours. Your job is to help us get all this stuff into someone’s belly.’
David came back every day, for the next few months that I worked there. I let every other manager on duty know that we would no longer be throwing away the extras at the end of the night.
And, after we would lock our doors, I would watch David shuffle across the street to the park, large coffee in one hand, huge shopping bags full of food in the other.
And I would watch him open up the bags, and share his bounty with other homeless people.
Here was a man with very little. But generous with what little he had.”
“These Things Happen”
“My very first job was at Albertson’s as a courtesy clerk. My responsibilities were bagging groceries, helping people out to their cars, and collecting shopping carts, and rolling them back up to the front.
While bagging groceries one day, there was a young couple with a child purchasing only needs (mainly meals). Their costs ended up being reasonable for a grocery cost – something similar to 150 bucks or 200 bucks. When the cashier ran the card, it was declined. This occurred not infrequently, but what exactly hit me about that specific situation was the family members immediately began apologizing, and their faces switched to grim. It appeared as though they’d expected this might occur.
They unbuckled the youngster out of the cart chair and left as quickly as they could, appearing painfully ashamed. How they left the store caused it to seem as though they thought unworthy to be told there.
I was only sixteen years old but quite definitely felt torn in. I wanted to let all of them know they don’t need to be ashamed, and I also highly considered footing the balance.
These things happen. We live in a society with very few safety nets.”
They Were Left Speechless
“When I worked at Walmart years ago I made really good friends with several other employees. One of my Walmart friends was named Robert, we called him Rob. He was 21 years old when he suddenly contracted cancer for the second time in his life. His health declined rapidly, and he was sent to live in hospice care.
We (the group of Walmart friends) visited him as often as we could, and sometimes we would take him to go shopping. In one instance, my sister and I went to Walmart where he picked out a DVD and a couple of food items. He had trouble walking so we were wheeling him around in a wheelchair, picked out the items, and headed to the registers.
It was no secret this poor kid was low on funds. He was living in an assisted living facility, could not work anymore from loss of mobility and declining communication skills, and had been supporting his mom who did not work in addition to having undergone chemo and other cancer treatments which are certainly not cheap!
At the register, my sister and I were already tearing up, helping Rob maneuver his items onto the belt for the cashier. I can smell Rob, he smells like a person who is dying but is still moving. The doctor told us the tumor was attached to his brain stem, so they were unable to operate. They also said he was supposed to die two months ago, so it was a miracle he was still with us. All these things are swirling around in my brain as tears are falling down my cheeks.
The cashier looks over as the register beeps that the card was declined. The small amount of resistance I had left was gone, I burst into tears on the spot, along with my sister. I was not thinking clearly at all when a wonderful person came up, no questions asked, and paid for Rob’s items while we were sobbing away. I tried to thank them, but I’m not sure if what I was trying to communicate came across or not. I’m not sure if words came out of my mouth at all or if they were just in my head.
One month later, Rob passed away at 22 years old from cancer. He loved working at Walmart so much that the managers closed down the store for one hour so everyone, even managers, could attend his funeral. He was very loved, and I will never forget the kindness of that one person who paid for Rob’s items when my sister and I couldn’t keep them together.”
Restored Her Faith In Humanity
“I was a cashier at Wal-Mart, working on a super slow Monday back in 2002. A man came through my line that was very obviously differently-abled. I was trying to talk with him while I rang up his overflowing cart, trying to put him at ease. His total came out to 546 bucks and 99 cents – that number has stuck in my head for all these years. 546 bucks and 99 cents. He smiled at me, very proud, reached in his pocket and pulled out a ten, a five, and three crumpled ones. ‘Is anyone here with you?’
I asked him, ‘Anyone to help you with your things?’
He shook his head and replied that he had walked because his mom was asleep, but hadn’t had to cross the street.
I was very unsure how to proceed at this point. I have an autistic nephew and know how badly most with developmental disabilities just want to be treated ‘normal’, whatever that is. I knew how much it took for him to be there, knew how proud of himself he looked. I couldn’t stand the thought of taking that pride away from him. I looked around, hoping to find a manager to explain to this sweet man that he was short by over 500 bucks. I couldn’t make him understand, no matter how I worded it, that his 18 bucks weren’t enough. I was almost crying as I started asking him about the most important things he had, trying to figure out his most needed items.
Then I noticed a woman watching us. She also had a heaping cart full of items and she walked quickly to my line and looked at his total. She whispered something to me, but I couldn’t hear her.
She repeated herself softly and that time I heard her say, ‘I’ll pay.’
This lady, a perfect stranger, paid over 500 bucks of her own money to help this man, someone that didn’t understand what was going on, someone that couldn’t even really thank her. I was in absolute awe of her. I had heard of things like this happening but had never seen it.”
Sorry, Mommy Didn’t Have The Money
“This young mom of two was in Chick-fil-A with her two young children in tow. You can tell she was having a very bad day as she ordered lunch for her two children.
One of the children asked, “Mommy, where’s yours?”
And she said she wasn’t hungry. She attempted to pay using her credit or debit card and it was declined. She asked to run it again and it was declined. She claimed she didn’t have any money on her and she couldn’t pay for the meals. The mom was in tears.
She told her children she didn’t have the money to buy them lunch and started leaving. Now the children were in tears and were crying they were very hungry.
I told the manager and said go stop her and give her the meals and I’ll pay for them. I also said add a number one meal for mom so she can eat as well.
When she found out what I did, she came up to me and hugged and profusely thanked me explaining how her husband died and she was unable to work because of her young children, one who is on the autism spectrum. I told her not to worry, and to enjoy her lunch. She wouldn’t stop thanking me.
Meanwhile everyone else there was complimentary of my actions. But not one other stepped up to offer what I did.”
Hope He Had A Good Birthday
“The card terminal denies the transaction again.
He stammered, ‘Uh- can I pay with cash?’
‘Sure,’ I said, handing over the check to him.
He pulled out a couple of notes from his wallet, but it was still short of the total bill. An hour before, I have served and sang happy birthday to his seven-year-old son. The kid looked happy, blew the candles out with his older sister. However, his dad kept glancing at the menu as if he’s silently calculating the prices in his head. He insisted to keep one menu with them, ‘Just in case if we want to order something else.’
He scratches the back of his head, nervously laughing while saying, ‘Well then, maybe I could wash some dishes at the back?’
I chuckled. I know men like him. No. Let me rephrase that. I know fathers like him. I’ve met them before, I have served them before. They’ll do anything to get their kids happy even if it means they ended up paying with coins sometimes. But I was a struggling student; barely making ends meet while trying to support myself.
I beckoned for the manager on duty to come over to my station. This is a man with whom I share a close friendship, and he understood that look I gave him. He took the bill, comped it fifty percent, and gave me the new bill to pass to the man.
‘Uh-ah, this bill is-‘ he said then looked at me again.
‘Yes, it has been comped,’ I said, closing the checkbook and making the transaction.
I handed him his balance and would you believe it, this grown man was ready to cry. I smile, feeling sad that he had to scrap to give his son a birthday party, but it was still not enough.
He handed me an MYR10 note (a currency of Malaysia) as a tip. I asked him if he’s sure about it and he nodded vigorously and said, ‘Please, it’s the least I can do for your service. Accept it.’
I never saw him again but I hope his life changes for the better.”
Doesn’t Cost Anything To Be Nice
“While at work I had noticed a mother with her three children shopping for groceries. The mother had two toddlers and her oldest daughter looked to be around 12 or 13 years of age. The oldest daughter was so helpful to the mother as they shopped. She was keeping her sisters occupied while her mother shopped.
Well, when it came time to check out the mother asked the daughter if she wanted anything since she was so helpful. The daughter grabbed a candy bar from the shelf and put it on the belt. When the mother went to pay for the groceries her card was declined. But that’s not the saddest part.
The saddest part was the daughter thought her candy bar was the reason her mother’s card was declined.
She quickly apologized to her mom and told her that she didn’t need the candy bar.
The mother didn’t know what to do. Well the gentleman behind them had noticed what was going on and jumped in. He noticed a mother with her hands full trying to buy a few groceries to feed herself and her children. So he offered to pay for her groceries.
It wasn’t much maybe 30 bucks worth but what made the situation even better was that he added candy bars for all three children.”
She Was Not Playing Games
“My boyfriend of three years took me on a glorious romantic picnic overlooking the San Diego Bay. It was there he told me the words that excited me more than any I’d heard before, ‘I think we should get married!’ I was elated! The proposal was a little offbeat since there was no ring and it wasn’t exactly a question… but none of that mattered to me. I was 24 and excited for my life to be coming together.
On a clear Saturday morning was when things really started to come together, or so I thought. He whisked me away to the local engagement ring store. I was so torn between my fantasy of having a big beautiful diamond and the reality that we should probably be careful with the budget. I asked him about the budget and he said he thought 5,000 bucks should be pretty reasonable.
Even so, I felt bad maxing it out so I decided to get the most bang for my buck that I could with about 2,500 bucks. So here we are, the moment that every girl wishes and waits for her whole life, I’ve just picked out my engagement ring! It’s about to be mine! I was beyond excited and then we step into that office.
They went over financing options and everything was rung up and ready to be paid for. Then the moment happened which changed the whole course of my life. The associate came back into the room and let us both know that my fiance was declined. Shame crept over him like a shadow and a cold wind. Our hearts sank as we realized a new obstacle was in our path. We went home and reviewed all of our finances as well as his credit report and all of his debts and put together a plan to get his credit up so that he could be able to afford that wedding band.
My fiance started to drift away from that point forward. When I would come over to visit, I would find him not excited to see me and working on dinner like normal, not even doing work or doing something productive, but sunk into a haze that revolved around video games.
He was constantly involved in playing video games and let himself get wrapped up in that world and lose sight of any of our other goals. He moved into a new house with roommates and things started to drift even more. His job was tapering off yet he had spent a bunch of money on skydiving equipment, which was his latest hobby. Not even thinking of saving up for the wedding ring.
One day I showed up and he had adopted a cat. This kind of reignited my delight in coming over because I’m a cat lover myself. I played with and just adored that little animal. It almost made me forget that it had been six months since the incident and no forward momentum had been made on cleaning up his credit, improving good finances, or getting a ring on my finger. We weren’t acting engaged and there was no talk of any wedding in months.
One day I came over and the cat was gone. My boyfriend informed me that he was sneezing, coughing, and even had a bloody nose… so he had him put to sleep!!! It has only been a few weeks since he had adopted him, I knew about a policy they had at the shelter where if the animal is sick within the first month, they would treat him for free! But he didn’t think of this, and since they didn’t have the money to get their pet treated by a vet, my boyfriend had made the rash decision to put the kitty to sleep. I was appalled. He did this without consulting me and this kind of behavior did not speak well about any future parenting abilities!
That was it, I informed him it had been six months since his credit card was declined on the wedding ring and there’s been no forward motion in correcting any of that situation and now to take an innocent life due to inconvenience. I told him we needed a break to reevaluate things. A month later there was nothing done by him to remedy the situation. It was final.
Flash forward six years and I was involved in a relationship with a wonderful man who loved me more than anything and was willing to do whatever it took to spend the rest of his life proving it to me.
For the record, a few days before the wedding, he also bought me a brand new ring of my own to wear, just in time for the ceremony. You could imagine my relief when that sale was approved.”
A Happy Ending
“Back in 1999, I was fairly fresh out of high school and working at McDonald’s as an order taker/cashier. One day I had a woman come through my drive-thru asking about the price of the different Happy Meals. I could see from the look in her eyes that something was bothering her. I asked if she was okay, and she replied that it was her six-year-old son’s birthday and he was in the hospital.
She then settled on the Hamburger Happy Meal. She said that it was all she could afford. She pulled out her card and attempted to pay. That’s when she saw the dreaded reply, ‘declined.’
I looked back at her and saw the look of utter defeat as she could not even get her son a Happy Meal. I then asked her what her son’s favorite Happy Meal was. She then proceeded to ask why.
I told her that I had just gotten paid and would take care of it. From our earlier conversation, I could tell that it was the chicken nugget happy meal. I quickly changed the order, pulled out my card, and paid. I told her don’t worry about it and she could go around the corner and get the meal.
She said a very heartfelt thank you and I responded, ‘It was my pleasure and that I hope her son gets well soon.’