One racist, One peanut butter and One good heart

Something pretty sad happened this weekend.

I went off to Pick 'n Pay with my BFF on Saturday after spectacular cappuccinos at Abreu (again - thankyou).

I only bought 2 things so I sped through the Express till (sped is an exaggeration, there is nothing Express about that till in this branch).  The less than 10 items sign seems to mean nothing to most people.

While hanging around opposite the end of the tills, waiting for BFF, I was lazily watching the people paying.  Along came a guy.  Nice clothes but obviously old and extremely worn everywhere.  I judged him to be about early 20's.  The reason I watched him is because he had 2 loaves of bread, one tin of fish and a small bottle of peanut butter.  He looked like he really needed it.  It made me sad for reasons that I am not going to talk about here.

When time came to pay there was much money counting, from every pocket.  There seemed to be a problem.  He counted again.  The cashier counted.  You could see his deliberation of the items bought and the peanut butter was handed back and voided by the supervisor.  He picked up his items and walked out.

That jar of peanut butter lay there on the side, waiting to be returned to the shelf.  I looked at it and suddenly it represented to me so many things, injustice, the gravy train, corruption, unfairness, greedy people getting rich at the expense of others and in turn a lot of personal feelings ... shrouded in a grey cloud of hurt that I was carrying on that day.

I closed the distance between me and the cashier in record time, to enquire how "short" his money had actually been.  70c.  Seventy cents.  Only 70 paltry cents stood behind him and a nutritious spread for his bread.  And trust me this was not a scam artist, he was hungry.  I will not allow my new found cynicism about life make me think otherwise.  I grabbed R20 out my jeans, shoved it in her hand and told her I would be back for the change.  Grabbing the jar I dashed because I had to catch him now (it is a big centre and running is not my forte').  In an attempt to help the cashier shouted to security at the door to catch him.  Perhaps not the best assistance.

Picture this.  A weather beaten young black guy (and the fact that I highlight race, which I hate doing, is relevant to the story), walking whilst two (one would have been fine) security guards run after him, followed by a white (yes it is relevant) woman clutching a Black Cat peanut butter jar.

Catching up to him in a trio, he turned and looked at us.  I saw fear.  And that made me gasp.  I quickly planted the jar in his hands and said to him "Here, I saw you were short, I have paid it for you".  As luck would have it his English was minimal, he could not grasp what I said and was probably scared to death as I had the security with me.  I did ask them to "stand down" haha, but they remained steadfast.

Now this is where it got tricky .... along came Mr White Guy.  PT shorts, boep and tshirt with a picture of a former flag of a country that changed its flag in 1994.  I quickly told Bambi in headlights aka my peanut butter guy again that he must take it because I knew "hier kom moeilikheid".  "Wat het hierdie ***** gedoen Mevrou" came the instant question.  Now some of you more "serious" readers may say that he was coming to my defence.  Very noble, but perhaps he should have asked if he could help, before he threw the racial slur.  Along came man number 2 "Nice language", he commented to Mr Tshirt, "I think you owe an apology".  I knew that there was more chance of Zuma showing his face in Parliament than that happening.

By now the security guards were translating in 2 Black languages the frikken peanut butter story and I was wishing I had paid more attention to the Sotho classes in school.  Suddenly the light dawned.  Keeping an eye on Mr Racist with Boep on his left, his eyes lit up and he said "Thankyou",  3 times.

He went on his way, but the security stood fast.  Kudos to them.  "Happy with yourself?"  I asked my huge friend.  "Proud?".  "I bought him a damn item of food".  "What the hell have you done for someone else today? "

Would I do it again?  Yes.  I have done it before.  For White ladies, White men, White kids, Black ladies.  Black men.  Black kids.  Hell can you believe I even bought a Checkers cashier and packer a Coke each earlier this year when it was 6pm and they obviously had a torrid day behind them.  How could I do something so shocking".   My kids will tell you that I remind them almost daily that there is always someone worse off than each and every person in life.

So I urge you all .... do it ...... pay it forward.

Because maybe one day that person at the till returning an item will be you.  Don't be so sure that your life cannot change in an instant.

Till soon
c'est la vie

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