Sometimes working in a retail store makes it difficult to have faith in the goodness of humanity. I meet some incredibly rude and inconsiderate people whose behaviour puzzles me. I just don’t understand some people.
On the other hand, I also get opportunities to witness some beautiful acts of consideration, thoughtfulness and cooperation. Last week I found myself in a busy and often frustrating area of the store, lots of product, many choices, and often nothing that looks exactly like what someone is looking for. So I was trying to help these two customers who had similar needs, one with a very particular product in mind, another with a less specific need, but for a similar product. Nothing on the rack seemed to satisfy either of these people.
When I went to the stockroom in the back to see if we had anything more than what was on the rack I discovered that there were single packages containing two of just the type of product these two strangers were looking for. The first thought in my mind was “if they bought this together they would both be able to get what they want, separately they would probably both throw away the second item. Together they could save money, make less waste, and both go away happy.” So, with low expectations of how my idea might go over, thinking that they would probably never go for such a preposterous idea as buying something in cooperation with a stranger, I grabbed two packages and headed to the sales floor. I humbly presented my suggestion about perhaps splitting the cost of the one package. Neither one immediately jumped at the idea, but neither person dismissed it either. I stood back and waited to see what might happen.
After passing the package back and forth for awhile, a magic set of words came out of the one person’s mouth: “I’d be happy to split the cost of this with you, and you can have first pick of which one you want, I don’t really care which one I get.” I was surprised and delighted. In cities, instances of cooperation and generous sharing can be hard to uncover, but these lovely moments do exist. The two went up to the cash desk and shared the cost together, also surprising and delighting the cashier with this cooperative act.
I wonder sometimes if more of us had more faith in humanity, if we trusted each other more, that we might find that we encountered more instances of cooperation and community, bringing out the best in one anothe, rather than the worst. So maybe next time you have the chance to cooperate or be generous to another person but are suspicious and doubtful, try being more trusting and optimistic – you too might just be surprised and delighted.