An interstate gas station. Christmas music is playing overhead. The place is busy. There is a ten-minute wait for the men’s room.
I am here to buy some crummy boiled peanuts and fill up my truck. I have another hour left on the road.
I can’t believe it’s already Christmas season. The holidays come quicker each year. It feels like only yesterday we were shooting fireworks and waving little American flags.
The line at the cash register is long. I am standing behind a young man who looks exhausted. He is covered in sweat and dust. He is wearing work boots and a neon reflective work vest.
There is only one cashier. She is old, she wears a Santa hat and calls everyone “sweetie.”
She is a cheery woman, with white hair and blue eyes. She sends every customer away with kind words and a smile. She says things like:
“Take care, now,” or, “God bless,” or “Have a good day, sweetie.”
The young man ahead of me carries a Gatorade and a bag of potato chips. When it’s his turn to pay, he digs into his pocket and places a handful of dollars on the counter.
He says, “Can I have four dollars of gas on pump two, please?”
“Four dollars?” the woman says.
She doesn’t answer. Instead, she glances out the window. She sees what we all see. There is a red truck near the window, a young family inside it.
“You drivin’ that red Dodge, sweetie?” she asks.
Her face breaks into a toothy smile. “Well, you’re in luck, some guy overpaid earlier on that pump. You can go ahead and have thirty bucks of gas if you want.”
“Really?” the kid says.
She gives him a receipt. He heads for the door. Before he exits, she hollers:
“Merry Christmas, sweetie!”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says. “Merry Christmas.”
We all see him through the window. He is pumping gas. He is smiling, and he doesn’t look nearly as tired as he did earlier. He kisses one of the children in the vehicle. He rubs the head of another.
Before the cashier calls the next customer to the register, she removes a pocketbook from beneath the counter. She takes out a few ten-dollar bills and places them into the register.
Then she announces, “I can help who’s next, please.”
That would be me. I set my items on the counter. I am trying not to be too nosy here, but I can’t help myself.
“That was really nice of you,” I whisper. “What you just did.”
She blushes. The woman knows she’s been busted.
“Nah,” she says, waving a hand at me. She adds nothing more to her statement because anything else would be too much.
So I pay for my things. She hands me a receipt.
Before I leave, she hollers, “Have a good day, sweetie!”
Soon, I am at the pump. The young man is still getting his thirty dollars’ worth of gas. A little girl is hugging him so tight they might as well be Siamese twins.
He smiles at me. And I can see something on his face.
I wish I knew how to describe his look, but I can’t. It’s magnificent. Maybe it’s pure youth. Or maybe it’s something a lot bigger than that.
Maybe it’s the wonderful feeling that leads a body to believe that no matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, there are unseen forces watching us, helping us, loving us. A feeling that, even if all Hell breaks loose, even if the universe falls apart tomorrow, it’s all going to be okay. Because we’re still here.
Whatever it is, the kid can feel it. His girl can feel it, too. So can I.
And all it took was a cashier in a Santa hat to make us feel that way.
It’s going to be a Merry Christmas.
Dianne Correll - November 27, 2018 7:12 am
There are angels among us and may wear a santa hat!!
Rose - November 27, 2018 7:40 am
Kindness has a ripple effect. It’s my favorite!
Pamela McEachern - November 27, 2018 8:35 am
I am loving this post, thank you.
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Karen - November 27, 2018 9:37 am
Merry Christmas. Thank you. So much.
Jean - November 27, 2018 10:39 am
Who knew Santa worked at a gas station? Makes my heart smile!
Steven P Bailey - November 27, 2018 10:43 am
Sherry - November 27, 2018 11:49 am
We are in charge of our “merry”…and it’s helping others that makes us the merriest….Thank you Sean!
Jan - November 27, 2018 12:03 pm
That was a good one … Sweetie!
Mary - November 27, 2018 12:15 pm
Your stories make my day!
Terri C Boykin - November 27, 2018 12:25 pm
Kindness, I love it, sweetie!
Susie - November 27, 2018 12:44 pm
You always put a smile on my face.
Beverly - November 27, 2018 12:53 pm
I shop at Aldi’s. I always, always give my cart away. Free, no quarter, please, my treat.
Last week it was an elderly gentleman carrying shopping bags under his arm. I yelled to him, here is a cart. He replied no, I don’t have any money. I just smiled and said, I don’t want any money. He looked at me and said, “you are an angel”. That has stuck with me for days. For $.25. I hope I am an angel.
Barbara Pope - November 27, 2018 1:07 pm
Delightful story today!
Jack Darnell - November 27, 2018 1:30 pm
OH YES, that even makes me feel good. Great story! On second thought, you ain’t making this up are you??? 😉 Love it!
Gloria Knight - November 27, 2018 1:52 pm
My day is not complete without a “dose” of Sean!
BJean - November 27, 2018 2:35 pm
You find the most wonderful people! Really inspiring. ?
Robin - November 27, 2018 2:45 pm
Loved this one, tears in my eyes!
Merry Christmas sweetie!!!
Shelton Armour - November 27, 2018 2:50 pm
I love to hear stories like that! Thanks…it helps restore my hope that there aren’t enough good people left in the world. Thanks again-a lot!
Bev - November 27, 2018 2:55 pm
God’s sweet angels of “mercy and grace” can be found in every place we find ourselves. Sean, thank you for seeing them and sharing them with us! You have helped us all be more conscious of them each day ❤️?
Edna B. - November 27, 2018 3:05 pm
Yeah, I think this might one of my favorites too. Such a beautiful woman with such a beautiful heart. I agree, there are angels everywhere. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
drgalloway - November 27, 2018 3:20 pm
You just did the same for me this morning. My lucky day. Thanks for the story, sweetie
traviswilburnblog - November 27, 2018 3:56 pm
Beautiful story, my friend. Love your ability to notice the good and magnify it through your writing. You’re making the world a better place, one heartfelt story at a time.
Carol - November 27, 2018 4:20 pm
Thank God for people like her !!
I wish they’re were more. And maybe there is !
I call them Angels and we don’t always see them!!
But God sends them to help & I hope one day he uses me like that. Just so I can make a difference in they’re life and mine!
Know what I mean Sweetie?
thmabz57 - November 27, 2018 4:30 pm
Love your stories! I am new reader of your work and find myself looking forward in the morning to your new story. This story reminded me of a friend’s mother who is now passed away…every December right before Christmas Eve she would go to the Walmart and back then Kmart on the side of town where people were often living pay check to pay check. And she would go to the lay-away window and talk with the clerks there. After talking with the clerks she would pay off several families layaway debt. She never saw the faces of the families and didn’t know them at all. But it made her happy that she knew she was making someones Christmas. Her daughter now continues that tradition!
rantsandravescom - November 28, 2018 1:29 pm
Child learn by what their see. Especially from their parents. God bless them.
Gwen Monroe - November 27, 2018 4:37 pm
Unseen forces. Yeah. I believe. Merry Christmas and thanks
Judy Broussard - November 27, 2018 9:13 pm
I love you Sean. You always make my day by sharing
Jones - November 27, 2018 11:43 pm
????⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Keep writing-we all need your stories!
Lydia - November 28, 2018 12:51 pm
We need more people like that sweet lady in this world!
rantsandravescom - November 28, 2018 1:32 pm
May we all pass this kindness on.
Michael Hawke - November 29, 2018 2:45 am
And May God bless you.
dogsdolls - November 29, 2018 3:37 am
Your writing inspires me to be a better person. I want to be the kind of person who can make someone else’s day a better one. Thank you!