DEAR ABBY: From time to time you print letters about acts of kindness, and I'd like to relate one I witnessed:
I was working as a cashier in a grocery store. An elderly woman came through my line with about 10 items in her basket, including some strawberries and shortcakes. Making small talk, I commented on how nice the berries looked. She agreed, and informed me that they were a little treat for herself. She said she didn't have much on her late husband's pension.
When I told her the total, her face fell and she asked me to take the strawberries and shortcakes off because she couldn't afford them. I was sad and embarrassed for her. I thought about buying them myself, but had no cash on me and wasn't sure if it might violate a store policy. She paid for the remainder of her items and went outside to rest on a bench before walking home.
I began scanning the next customer's items while trying to put out of my mind the sadness I felt at the lady's disappointment. My customer asked me why the lady hadn't taken her strawberries. I explained and continued totaling the woman's sale.
The woman then told me to include the strawberries -- not for herself, but for the lady outside. She wanted no praise or thanks and asked me to give them to the lady.
I took them to the lady on the bench and explained that the woman in line behind her had purchased them for her. She looked down at the strawberries, tucked them into her bag and began to cry, murmuring about the kindness of strangers. I went back inside and had to explain to the next 15 minutes' worth of customers in my line why I was crying.
The woman who bought the strawberries never saw how grateful the lady was, nor how touched I was, or my co-workers and other customers were -- not only by her kindness, but her humility in making her gift anonymous. She affected so many people that day, I hope those reading this letter will affect and influence many more. -- INDIANA READER
DEAR INDIANA READER: Thank you for a sweet and uplifting letter. I'm sure it will stimulate others to consider how they, too, can help those who are less fortunate than themselves.