When you pass someone while walking down the street or strolling through a grocery store what do you do? Do you immediately look at your phone or suddenly becoming interested in the family-sized can of mixed nuts on the shelf next to you? Or are you one of those people who makes eye contact and offers a smile or says “hello” as you pass each other?
For some, avoiding what may or may not be an awkward interaction is a go-to tactic, but not for Lisa Lemming Jackson. If it wasn’t for the friendly smile she gave an elderly man she passed in a grocery store, things may have turned out very differently for the man.
Jackson shared the story of her encounter with the man, identified as Elmer, on her Facebook account. Since she posted it in August 2016, it has been shared over 55,000 times.
It all started with Jackson making eye contact and smiling at an elderly man in her local grocery store.
Jackson wrote she had been shopping at Kroger when she walked past a man and smiled at him. She noticed that instead of returning a warm, friendly smile back he gave her a look that said, “I need help.”
Rather than continuing on with her shopping, Jackson retraced her steps and made her way back to the man.
“I have colon cancer and I have had a really bad accident,” Elmer said to Jackson as tears welled up in his eyes. “If I get up out of this cart everyone will know … What should I do?”
She knew that she had to help this man.
Jackson alerted Kroger employees and they gave them wipes, undergarments, and a change of clothes. The store employees directed Jackson and Elmer to an employee-only bathroom where Elmer was able to change discreetly.
While she was with Elmer, the elderly man mentioned that he needed to hurry home to his wife who was waiting for him.
The two of them finished their business and made their way up to the front of the store so Elmer could pay for his groceries, but when they reached the register they noticed all of his groceries had been paid for and bagged.
After Jackson helped the man she realized “humanity still does care about one another.”
Upon realizing his groceries had been paid for Elmer cried and said that he was a veteran of the Vietnam War and Korean War and until this very moment he had been thinking about how his country seemed to have forgotten about him.
Jackson assured him that he hadn’t been forgotten and he offered her some words of advice. And while she took his advice, the most important thing Jackson learned from her experience is that “humanity still does care about one another.”