A Belated Christmas Story

On Christmas eve 2009 I found myself in my local supermarket pushing a trolley with race car precision through the isles to hunt down a few remainder Christmas items. I inquired to a stock lady where the ham bags were kept, she tried to help me find one, but another staff member informed us they had sold out days ago. I decided to use a pillow case for the ham. It won’t mind, it’s just a ham, and I’m sure the smoked ham aroma could be washed out of said pillow case. An announcement came over the speaker alerting customers that only a few kilos of prawns were left. “Shit! I forgot to grab some prawns!” the stock lady exclaimed loudly, as she rushed between two trolleys about the collide with her reindeer hat bobbing along.

As I contemplating licking the ham pillow case I suddenly remembered I needed butternut pumpkin. I did a three point turn with the trolley and headed towards the fresh produce section to grab the last pumpkin. I was checking my list (twice, got to find out what food is naughty or nice) when I noticed a scruffy man with no shoes and a backpack, containing all his belongings, strung over his shoulder enjoying a few grapes. One of the junior stock boys noticed too. He scolded the shoeless man and waved his hands at him in an attempt to make him put down the grapes and move along. The shoeless man said sorry, that he hadn’t eaten in two days, and attempted to leave as the manager arrived. The junior stock boy looked very proud about his accomplishment of protecting the grapes. But the manager wasn’t pleased. He grabbed a bunch of grapes and handed them to the shoeless man. “On the house” he said with a friendly smile. A radiant smile appeared on the shoeless mans face, while a look of confusion appeared on the junior stock boys face. They both walked away, leaving the shoeless man alone with his grapes. Moments later the manager returned, handed the shoeless man a $30 gift card and said “Merry Christmas.” He thanked the generous manager, then proceeded to buy copious amounts of fresh food and other items.

As I looked around I noticed that everyone was far too busy with their last-minute Christmas eve shopping to notice what had just transpired. I received many gifts for Christmas, one of the most precious was to witness a gift given to someone who really needed it.

6 Comments on “A Belated Christmas Story”

  1. Now *that’s* a store I could return to week after week. More shoeless men would drive off the pushy, selfish, middle-aged women that make my shopping trips so stressful.

    From the first moment they steal my intended parking spot in their euro 4WDs to the last second I spend with laser eyes burning holes in my back because they don’t like me wasting seconds of their time by loading my shopping into a cotton bag instead of the store’s own plastic, they make shopping something I’d rather not do.


  2. I like the story, but I think the manager is probably a hypocrite though. What would he have done on any other day of the year in this same situation? He would have probably kicked the shoeless man out and complimented the stock boy.

    I can even understand if that would be his standard response in this situation. From the supermarket’s point of view, a scruffy shoeless man eating grapes without paying is probably not wanted inside the supermarket.

    Fine, but don’t reward him on Christmas eve when you would not have accepted his behaviour on any other day. Bank personnel don’t hand out extra bags of money to bank robbers around Christmas time either.

    The manager probably didn’t give to the man out of true kindness, but to feel good about himself and to look good in front of his customers and employees. Those are selfish motives. That is not what ‘the Christmas spirit’ or being kind is about at all.

    That said, I’m not saying he should have acted like an a-hole either. He could have escorted the man out, explain to him he can’t eat stuff in the store without paying and then hand him some stuff outside the store. Or maybe hand out some stuff to some other hungry people who do not come inside the store and eat from the shelves.


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