16 years ago today, I was an assistant manager at a CVS in South Philadelphia. I was working the day shift that day, and had Christmas Day off. About an hour before my shift ended, another assistant manager apprehended a shoplifter. She had stolen a significant dollar amount of cosmetics and health and beauty items. I got picked to sit with her while waiting for the police to come to get her. Though the police station was just down the street, it took them almost an hour to get to the store. So I sat with the shoplifter in our break room. As it was Christmas Eve, the store had sprang for food and drink for the day, and it was all set up back there with us.
The two of us had been sitting there for a bit, when the shoplifter asked me if she could have a sandwich…we had a bunch of mini deli sandwiches sitting at our table. I considered saying no…after all, this woman had just tried to steal $100 of merchandise from the store…why should I offer her any food? Damn…that’s awfully greedy.
But it was Christmas Eve and a Sunday…she would likely sit in jail for at least 2 days. She didn’t look very healthy and it would probably be the best meal she would have for a while. I later learned she was apparently a crack addict, living in a run-down place over in Grays Ferry (at the time, a run-down neighborhood in South Philadelphia, not far from the store). So, I fixed her a plate, and later poured her some ginger ale.
After the police picked her up, I got 50 kinds of hell from my co-workers. They were mainly giving me shit, but I think they were genuinely curious as to why I would feed someone that had just shit on us. My reply was simple: “It’s Christmas.” And I think they understood, even if they didn’t agree.
I am accused of being too nice…but I don’t know any other way to be. I think our current society lacks in kindness, and we desperately need to work on that. And it doesn’t take much…just smile and say hello to someone you don’t know. And just because you practice kindness doesn’t make you a pushover.
Happy Holidays to you all.