Small Things, Big Differences

By Tia Ann

One Saturday morning, Mum was busy running around after my brother, so she sent Dad to do the shopping, me to help, with a very long List Of Things To Buy.

Dad was grumpy, because the queue outside the shop was terribly long. 

When we got inside, we went to pick up some milk. As I was hauling a carton of milk into the shopping trolley, a man walked over. He was holding a bottle of Coke, and some bread.

‘Can you lend me a euro? For this?’ he asked gesturing to the items in his hands. I wondered whether he was alright.  Dad said no, very politely but confused. He didn’t think the man seriously needed the money.  The man looked upset, but only for a split second, ‘That’s alright.’ He walked away, and I pushed the very short and strange conversation to the back of my head, and focused on the shopping. Dad looked confused, but said nothing.

20 minutes later, we had almost gotten everything we needed. I was hovering near the shelves which were stocked with bread, trying to find the brand we normally buy. I turned to Dad, about to ask him if he could see it. But he wasn’t looking at the bread. He was staring off into space, looking upset. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked him, a bit worried. ‘I wonder why that man seemed so strange,’ he replied, snapping back to reality. ‘He looked so sad.’

‘I know,’ I agreed, remembering the look on the man’s face.

‘Tia, what if he really needed that euro?’ Dad went on. I wondered that too. Dad decided to find the man, and give him the euro he asked for. So we walked all around, Dad pushing the trolley, both of us scanning the crowd of customers for the man.

Dad suddenly stopped, jerking the trolley, and I almost walked into him. ‘There he is!’ Dad said. And there he was, counting a few coins.

While I waited with the trolley, Dad walked up to him and drew him aside. ‘Tell you what. Go and get some food, and I’ll pay for what you have,’ he said. The man’s face lit up, and he cried, ’Thank you! Thank you so much!’ and he hurried off to collect food.

So Dad and I waited by the counter until the man came back. He soon came running, holding lots of food. A huge bag of bread, chicken, milk and a few other things filled his arms. Dad payed for it all and the man looked very grateful.

After we got home, I told my brother and Mum the story very proudly, happy that Dad had done such a kind thing. But Dad’s forehead was crinkly. ‘I won’t be able to help him all the time.’ ‘True,’ my Mum said, kissing his cheek. ‘But A Small Act of Kindness makes a difference.’

Isn’t that the most perfect way to start a day?!!!

“This is a heartwarming story, beautifully told. The author shows a real eye for detail and an equally impressive ability to write smart and compelling dialogue.”

— Dr Matthew Fogarty, University College Dublin, Ireland