During a hurried trip to Target with her two young children in tow, a mother picked a checkout line she thought would be quick. After a moment of distraction, however, she looked up to see the cashier’s behavior toward an elderly woman and quickly decided to track down his manager.
Sarah Owen Bigler, an Indianapolis mother-of-two, was hoping her Tuesday trip to Target would be a quick one. Her husband Matt was sick, so she was flying solo with her kids in tow and just wanted to get in and out as fast as possible. That would all change, though, when what she had witnessed in the checkout line prompted her to find a manager.
“Yesterday Matt was sick. I picked up Archie from the sitter and Eloise from school and decided to run to Target for a few things. I had hoped to be in and out quickly,” Sarah recalled. “I found a line with just one person ahead of me and began organizing my items on the conveyor.” With only one shopper in front of her, Sarah thought she’d check out quickly, but she was wrong.
After arranging her merchandise, Sarah looked up to see that the person ahead of her was an elderly woman, who was not only paying for each of her items as a separate transaction, but she was also using loose change for each purchase. Very quickly, Sarah realized she wasn’t going to be leaving the store as soon as she had hoped. After a long day at work, this wasn’t a welcomed realization for the Indiana mom, who’s toddler was having a meltdown in the cart.
Just wanting to get home, Sarah admitted that part of her was frustrated with the woman and the inconvenience she was creating. Then, Ishmael Gilbert, the young cashier at the register, caught Sarah’s attention. As she watched his behavior towards the elderly customer, Sarah’s annoyance stopped dead in its tracks.
Very sweetly, Ishmael helped the woman count her change, tenderly taking it from her shaking hands. “When she asked if she had enough to buy a reusable bag, he told her she did and went two lines over to get one for her and then repackaged her items. Never once did this employee huff, gruff or roll his eyes. He was nothing but patient and kind,” Sarah explained in a Facebook post about the encounter.
Instead of becoming frustrated with each of the elderly woman’s requests, Ishmael politely responded, “Yes, ma’am.” As she watched, Sarah realized that her young daughter Eloise was watching the interaction too, and her child was getting something money simply couldn’t buy.
“I realized I hadn’t been inconvenienced at all. That my daughter was instead witnessing kindness and patience and being taught this valuable lesson by a complete stranger,” Sarah wrote. “I realized that I too needed a refresher on this lesson.”
When Ishmael finished with the elderly woman and began ringing up Sarah’s items, he thanked her for her patience, but it was Sarah who was full of gratitude. She thanked Ishmael for teaching her and her children “patience and kindness by his treatment of that elderly woman,” but she knew she had to do more to truly express her appreciation.
Although her trip to Target had already surpassed the amount of time she had wanted to spend in the store, Sarah had one more thing to do before she left. “When he was finished, I pushed my cart through the store trying to find the manager. I wanted her to know of the employee’s kindness and patience and how much it meant to me,” she wrote.
Sarah tracked the manager down and told her what her employee had done, but the story was far from over. Sarah’s insistence on praising Ishmael both in the store and later on social media changed the young man’s life. Not only did he go viral, but he was also offered a new job, where his tenderness will be an asset:
“We left Target with a cart full of consumable items, but what is more a heart full of gratitude for such an invaluable lesson,” Sarah concluded, no longer frustrated about being held up during her rush to finish up. “The world could use more people like him,” she said of Ishmael, and we couldn’t agree more.
We often go about our day, rushing around with limited time and patience, only wanting to tackle our errands as rapidly as possible. We fail to remember that, sometimes, kindness and compassion require us to give up some of our valuable time. This is a good reminder to slow down and ensure we are showing others the grace we all need and deserve. A little patience goes a long way toward bettering the world we live in.