The kindness of strangers
On Thursday evening, I went to Aldi to do the grocery shopping. I was fitting it in between finishing the copy-edits (yippeeeee) and collecting Gavin from the airport. So, while I wasn't in a rush, I wasn't hanging about. As some of my friends know, I do not see shopping as entertainment, the only possible exceptions being fabric, books and stationery. I have been known to post a photo of an empty trolley on Twitter, and ask my followers to lay bets on how long it will take me to get to the end of my shop with a full week's worth of groceries. I think the record so far is twenty six minutes, including checkout.
Aldi is small shop, which helps a lot. One variety of canned chopped tomatoes, one size bag of frozen peas, three sorts of honey - have you LOOKED at the big-supermarket honey section recently?
So I was reasonably confident I could get in and out in about twenty minutes, and indeed, I was lined up at a newly opened checkout counter in seventeen. I unloaded my shopping onto the moving belt and waited for the lady on the till to catch up with me. I felt in my pocket for my purse and ... no purse.
'Hold on!' I said, 'Can you just give me a minute, I have left my purse in the car.' And I raced off to get it.
I opened the passenger door, fully expecting it to be on the seat. No purse.
I ran back into the shop. The checkout lady was ringing through someone else's basket of stuff and chatting away.
'I'm really sorry, I must have left it at home.' I said.
I stood there patting my pockets, feeling like a prize fool. And then I remembered that I had gone into the boot to get my shopping bags and boxes before I had collected the trolley.
'Wait a minute! It might be in the boot!' I looked apologetically at the people in the queue behind me. 'Really sorry, I'll be back in a minute.' Again I sprinted outside to the car, and, sure enough, there it was, under a large IKEA bag.
I grabbed it and walked (I was out of breath by now) back into the shop, waving it triumphantly.
The couple who had gone ahead of me smiled and went on their way.
It wasn't until after I had paid for the groceries that the nice checkout lady told me that the couple had offered to pay for all of it.
ALL OF IT.
Just to clarify, this wasn't a little top-up shop, I had a full conveyer belt of food.
£39.52 worth of shopping, which two complete strangers offered to pay for.
I have no idea who they were, but this was Livingston Aldi at about 19:30 on Thursday 8th December.
Thank you, whoever you are.