An admittedly impatient woman was standing in line at a Walmart in Iowa when she overheard a man exclaim, “Wait!” When she looked up to see what was happening, she soon realized that he was a veteran. In a matter of seconds, she was left stunned to hear his next question.
Alana Ruthann decided to pick up a few items at Walmart in Ankeny, Iowa, where she found herself stuck in the checkout line for longer than she anticipated. As she waited, she immersed herself in her cell phone. However, her attention was soon drawn to the two men in front of her.
That’s when Alana found herself in a situation that needed to be seen and shared with others. In fact, she decided to snap a few quick photos on her cell phone, and she couldn’t wait to post them on social media. However, she never could have anticipated just how quickly the incident would go viral as soon as people began to see exactly what this strange man decided to do for a veteran.
She began her Facebook post by critiquing her own behavior, as she was clearly embarrassed at how absorbed she was on her cell phone to notice the two gentlemen in front of her. She then admits that she “heard an older man’s voice in confusion declare, ‘Wait, what is happening? What are you doing?!’”
Of course, the tone of his voice caught her attention enough to force her eyes up. Only mere seconds later, she realized that the older man was a veteran and the younger man was doing an honorable thing — he was paying for the veteran’s items.
She overheard the kind, younger man saying, “Sir, I’m paying for your items because you paid by serving my country and I’m grateful for you.” Of course, Alana couldn’t believe what she heard, and she couldn’t break her eyes free from the scene that was unfolding in front of her.
“The older man was caught off guard with a loss for words, fumbling his gloves in his hands and trying desperately to hold in his emotion, as was I,” she admitted, according to Love What Matters. “Just as quickly as he scanned his card and paid for the items, that young man said another thank you and quickly left. The veteran was still in shock, and as he was handed the purchased items, he asked, ‘What do I do now?’ To which the cashier responded with a warm smile, ‘You have a good day!’”
There I was caught in the rush of life yesterday at Walmart Ankeny. Annoyed I was standing in a line, God forbid I wait…
Alana says that her heart “welled” as she watched the veteran leave the store, beaming with pride. He had been recognized by a grateful stranger who thanked him for his service.
“What a feeling — in this life where we rush through with our eyes down at a screen full of negativity and disagreements — to have someone simply say ‘I’m grateful for you,'” Alana continued in her post.
“That 20-second interaction didn’t just change the veteran’s day— it changed my day, as well as that cashier’s — because that 20 seconds showed us by looking up and slowing down — life is pretty beautiful and surely we can find something to be grateful for,” she concluded.
Life can get hectic, and we can all be a little too self-absorbed at times. However, we should all remember to look up from own lives once in awhile and notice others. By simply doing that one thing, we never know how we might be compelled to act when we see someone else who deserves or needs a smile put on their face.
Many lives could be changed with just a simple smile. Perhaps the next time we’re all out, we should make it a point to smile at someone — you never know how that one simple gesture could change their day.