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When a Man Restocking the Produce Section Came to My Rescue

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I want to give a shout-out to the superhero restocking the potatoes in the produce department.

You probably don’t remember me. You were just doing your job, and it was about 10 years ago now. But, your kindness made a difference and frankly saved the day for me back then.

We were having a good day at home when I realized I needed to run to the store for a few items. My son was 4 at the time and he has autism, so the grocery store can be an overwhelming experience for him. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had never taken him to the store by myself and without Plans A, B and C in place.

I’m not sure what felt different about that day and why I decided to “wing it.” But, I was quickly reminded why we are a “backup plan” family. As my son and I strolled through the parking lot hand-in-hand, it felt like a huge victory. There we were, just walking into a store like all the other families. We stopped in the lobby and I asked my boy if he would like to ride in the cart or just walk and we would carry a small basket. Communication can be difficult for him, so we went over the choices a few more times and he decided, “No cart.”

We shopped for a short time, putting a few small items in the basket. Then it happened — meltdown in Aisle 5. Maybe I had misunderstood him and “No cart” really meant “Cart” or maybe he had just changed his mind. In any case, his frustration escalated in the produce department and before I knew it we were both on the floor and I was strategizing the aforementioned backup plan.

I’m sure other shoppers were probably staring at us, but I honestly didn’t notice them. I was focused on my son and how I could help him. I knew I couldn’t leave him to get a cart, but I also knew trying to get him to come with me would upset him more. I took some deep breaths and then I heard, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

I looked up and saw a man that had been restocking the produce a short distance from us.  I told him that if he could just bring us a cart, he would be my hero. He said, “Absolutely” and proceeded to the front of the store to retrieve what felt like a golden chariot at this point.

As I was calming my son and getting him settled in to the cart, my produce hero said, “He’s a good boy. I know he’s a good boy.” And while I also knew he was a good boy, it sure felt good to hear it from a stranger that day.

I still think of that day, 10 years ago, when I enter the grocery store today. It helps me realize how far we’ve come, and reminds me to never underestimate the little things people do for you.

They can be kind of a big deal.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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Originally published: April 30, 2015
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