Distraction and kindness

I walked down the hill from my workplace to the local convenience store today, lost in thought (and a bit of a headache). It was a warm, muggy day here in Boston, and the Boston Common was full of people—as many as I have ever seen there except for special events.

I stopped to get a drink at this store, where I often go. As I was about to walk back across Tremont St. and back to work, I realized I hadn’t been paying attention at all. Not to my surroundings, not to what I was doing, not even to the fact that I had walked out of the store without paying for the drink in my hand.


I turned around, walked back in and told the cashier my mistake, and then I paid for my drink. It would be easy to say that the staff was to lazy, or too distracted, or not even concerned about someone shoplifting. Or that they weren’t worried about a clean-cut, white male stealing from the store. Or that they recognized me, since I come in often, and didn’t even give me a second thought when I walked out—drink in hand and not even a hint of stopping to pay.

It might be any of those things, or some combination of them. It seems likely that was the case. But when I came back in and told them I hadn’t paid, they didn’t seem worried or surprised. The cashier just asked me what I had, and I paid. The other cashier, also the store manager, asked what had happened. “It happens all the time,” he said. “No problem. You would have gotten us back the next time.”

Wow. I really think these guys didn’t worry about me walking out because they were sure I would do the right thing, the next time if not this time. Because this is pretty much the same thing that happened to me at another local business a couple weeks ago. I went in, ordered lunch, and started to pay with my debit card, blissfully unaware that this place doesn’t take cards, but cash only. Whoops again, because I was $2 short. I asked him to take the drink off my order (it was in a plastic bottle, so this wasn’t a big deal), but he wouldn’t hear of it. “Just pay me the next time.”

This gives me faith in humanity. Two wonderful men who don’t know even know my name weren’t worried about losing a few bucks for their business, and they said they trusted me.

Well, without even knowing it, they made me trust them. What a blessing.


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