One Sunday afternoon, I found myself in the checkout line at my neighborhood grocery store. There was a woman in front of me, probably between 30 and 35 years of age. Accompanying her were 4 young children, the oldest of which couldn't have been past the age of 6.
Now, I'm not one to assume, but I had to wonder if a father was in the picture. Regardless, she seemed to be struggling.
The cashier scanned her items: milk and other very tiny food products. As she dug through her pocketbook for cash, I noticed the youngest child looking at me from her seat in the shopping cart. Something about her eyes said "I'm hungry". Maybe it was the way she looked back and forth from me to my Hershey's bar and Campbell's Soup cans on the other side of the plastic divider.
"Mommy, can I get this?" The oldest child had himself found a Hershey's bar and was holding it out to his mother.
"No, child, we don't have the money for all that. Put it back." She waved him away and handed some bills to the cashier. The kid, head held low, put the candy back on the shelf.
"Oh, Lord! Wait a minute!" the mother shouted, pulling the bills back before the cashier could take them. "I can't have THAT!" She was pointing to the little monitor that displayed her total. It read $6.66, Satan's number. She looked to me and said, "You can put that over here - I'll get that for you." She was pointing to my Hershey's bar sitting on the conveyor. I handed it to her.
The cashier rung it up, and the mother pulled out a couple more bills to cover it - I got one of the big bars, the ones you're supposed to share but people rarely do - and paid with a smile on her face, saying, "Not today!" She handed my candy back to me and went on her way.
The eldest son looked at me as he shuffled off with his family. He seemed hurt almost. So, as I took a bite from my chocolate bar, I smiled, waved at him, and said, "Have a blessed one!" Even though it's against my beliefs, it just seemed like the right thing to say in the moment. And religious people want to argue that I have no moral compass? It's things like this that remind me I am a decent person... but I'm getting away from the point. In the end, this proved to me that religion's not so bad sometimes - I got free candy, after all.
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