bookstore experience
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
October 2, 2019 ·  4 min read

Bookstore Worker Shares Her Encounter with a “Little Old Lady” Who Shocked Everyone at Checkout

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

It was just a normal day at the Indie bookstore where Christine Turel worked. Christine loves her job and the kind of decent people she gets to meet every day, which was why she was particularly comfortable with this “little old lady” who couldn’t get over Christine’s bangs. 

“She’s lovably kooky. She effuses how much she loves the store and how she wishes she could spend more time in it but her husband is waiting in the car ‘OH! I BETTER BUY HIM SOME CHOCOLATE!’ She piles a bunch of art supplies on the counter and then stops and tells me how my bangs are beautiful and remind her of the ocean ‘Wooooosh’ she says, making a wave gesture with her hand,” Christine wrote in a now-viral Facebook post.

While Christine and the lady were chatting away, a harried college kid walked into the store to purchase a few textbooks. According to Christine, the bookstore is close to a local college, so college students were regular customers. The old lady then did something that shocked Christine and the kid to their bones.

“She turns around to him and, out of nowhere, demands that he put his textbooks on the counter. He’s confused but she explains that she’s going to buy his textbooks. He goes sheetrock white. He refuses and adamantly insists that she can’t do that. It’s like, $400 worth of textbooks. She, this tiny old woman, boldly takes them out of his hands, throws them on the counter and turns to me with an intense stare and tells me to put them on her bill. The kid at this point is practically in tears,” she wrote.

A heart full of positive vibes

The boy is standing there, in shock and unable to fully process the whole event. His gratitude was more than he could express with words. When the lady saw his tears, she said, ‘You need chocolate,’ and proceeded to pile some bars on the counter for him. Apparently, she believes chocolate solves all the world’s problems. She’s a real one.

When the kid asked her why she was going out of her way for him, she shocked him again by asking, ‘Do you like Harry Potter?’ She dropped a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on the counter. Christine rang up her bill and although it was outrageous, the lady paid without batting an eyelid. The boy then gave her a grateful hug, still in deep shock.

“We’re both telling her how amazing she is and what an awesome thing she’s done. She turns to both of us and says probably one of the most profound, unscripted things I’ve ever had someone say:
‘It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind,’” Christine wrote.

Truly, kindness is a choice. You may not always get to control yourself in times when you exude cruelty and meanness. In the heat of anger or rage, you could make decisions that do not reflect who you truly are and may hurt someone deeply. However, you can always CHOOSE to be kind without any motive, taking pride in the fact that something is better for someone out there, thanks to you. You can DECIDE to help someone and put a smile on their face. Kindness, when taken as a habit, will grow into a character that would become part of the aura around you.

After the kid left, Christine couldn’t help but tell the woman how awesome she was all over again. While still starring ruefully after the boy left, the lady said, “My son is a homeless meth addict. I don’t know what I did. I see that boy and I see the man my son could have been if someone had chosen to be kind to him at just the right time.”

Christine was baffled, but that did stop the sweet woman from giving her one last compliment, “I wish I could have bangs like that but my darn hair is just too curly.” Her sweetness is infectious even to a person reading about it.

You don’t always have to spend $400 to be kind to someone. The tiny acts of giving water to a thirsty person, helping a harried mother hold one of her kids on the subway, or helping children cross a busy road will leave the same marks of gratitude in their hearts.

Kindness should be a religion. Let’s embrace it.