Last week, I was on the receiving end of an unexpected act of kindness, promptly followed by the crushing realization that in the battle of destiny vs. altruism, destiny always wins. Let me explain.
I needed to buy a glass cover for a light fixture at my rental house — the move-out inspection was fast approaching, and I didn’t want to be on the hook for the missing cover, which I had broken months before while changing the bulb. I am nearly at the Home Depot when I notice that I left my wallet at home AND my youngest kid has fallen asleep in the car. Awesome!
But, hey, it’s 2019 — I don’t need my card, right? Surely I can use Apple Pay, and a quick google search in the parking lot confirms that I can do just that. I gingerly heft the dead weight of my sleeping child into my arms, then cautiously lean forward to grab the light cover I brought along for comparison purposes. I head straight to lighting, but I’m not sure where to find what I need. And — of course — there are no employees in sight. I eventually find what I’m looking for on the (duh) bottom shelf, my knees creaking as I bend down to retrieve the overpriced replacement item, sleeping child drooling on my shoulder, sweat breaking out on my forehead.
At checkout, I’m informed that this store’s Apple Pay feature works only intermittently. Guess what? Today’s not my day. In a moment of desperation, I tell the man helping me that I know my card number and ask if I can just tell it to him so he can type it in manually. His face lights up, and he tries to do this — but this strategy is also a no-go, it appears. I resign myself to putting the sleeping kid back in the car, driving to the bank, using card-free access to get cash so that I can return to Home Depot, remove sleeping kid again and do it all over, but the employee surprises me by zeroing out the transaction and whispering, “Merry Christmas” as he subtly slips the replacement dome into a bag with a receipt.
I am overcome with gratitude, and I thank him profusely as he — as if in slow motion — brings the bag containing the one light cover I brought and smacks it gently into the bag containing the new free-of-charge cover. I hear the sound of glass breaking. I realize a few things in that moment:
- I bought the last light cover in stock.
- There’s no fixing this with customer service — the light he broke was my own. Asking for a replacement when he’s just given me one for free seems greedy.
- I desperately don’t want to be holding a sleeping child any longer. My arms are aching, and I’m a sweaty mess.
I decide to smile, act as though nothing has happened, and flee to the car.
Once I return to my car and put my kid down, I confirm that the cover I brought is indeed broken. And I feel certain that when the spinner of destiny points to “bad day” on the wheel of fate, there nothing and no one that can change it. Not even the nicest Home Depot employee I’ve ever met.