Breakdown in Aisle Thirteen – The Crayolas Made Me Cry


As it turns out, you can’t make Jalapeño Popper Dip without jalapeños* – that one’s free – so it was back to the store for me, for the second time in as many days. Should anyone need a can, or three, of green chiles, hit me up.

This trip to the market began as every other; with me selecting the cart with wonky wheels. There are, after all, two types of carts in this world: those with normal wheels and those with wonky wheels. Put 50 carts in front of me and I’ll inevitably choose the one with wonky wheels. Anyone else?

The curious thing about wonky-wheeled carts is they don’t reveal their true colors right away. It’s not until you’re well into the store and committed to that cart that you find yourself careening towards a lobster tank; a cereal display; another shopper. Well, halfway into the store, that wire beast nearly caused a Cap’n Crunch catastrophe. Does it bother anyone else that the Cap’n’s eyebrows are on his hat? I digress. Back to preventing a cereal mishap with a sharp left turn down Aisle Thirteen.

And there I was, surrounded by pens, construction paper, safety scissors, glue sticks, folders, and spiral-bound notebooks. I turned to my right and was at eye-level with box upon box of the prized jewel of school supplies: Crayola®‎ Crayons. I couldn’t help but take one of those iconic green and yellow boxes from the shelf and pop the lid back.

I inhaled their waxy newness. It’s the smell of Christmas morning. Of new coloring books. Of first grade. It was then I remembered an email I had received at work about our school supplies drive to help intercity schools in need. And that was it. My tears began to flow. I cried for children struggling with hardships I can’t begin to imagine. I cried in Aisle Thirteen for children who didn’t know the joy of opening a new box of crayons. I knew what I had to do.

As the cashier was ringing me up, she said, “Gosh, you’re just buying crayons for everyone today.”

“I wish,” I said with a smile and a tear.

If one child discovers the joy of a brand new box of crayons, my mission has been a success. But that’s not where this story ends. For me, the most beautiful thing about kindness is that it resides in each one of us. It’s a gift that doesn’t require us to spend any money to give. A gift as simple as smiling at a stranger will make you feel rich beyond measure. And could very well be the only smile that person sees on that given day.

I’ve reached the point where I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Ricky Smith, founder of the Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere (R.A.K.E.) movement.

Thank you, sir, for the inspiration.

And thank you to the wonky-wheeled cart that steered me in the right direction after all.

*Yes, even for one item, I’ll always grab a cart. I guess it’s my security blanket, which makes me the Linus of grocery stores. I’m quite alright with that.

Until next time, be kind to yourself. And each other.



Note: All opinions expressed here are my own. I have not received any compensation for writing this post.

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