Whoever came up with the catchy slogan for Home Goods is pure genius! “Be Home Goods Happy.” How right they are! Something about all of the bright and shiny items perfectly displayed on the bright and shiny racks makes me smile with joy. Most of my visits to this store are out of necessity. Grab a quick birthday gift. A colleague is moving and I need a goodbye present. Is Saint Patrick’s Day already here … I have nothing emerald green?! Yet, other times, I pop in with zero desire to purchase. I simply stop in to peruse the isles. I find something strangely magical and borderline relaxing about walking around, just looking at the ocean of home decor. One might say I am addicted to this store. Really, I am just addicted to the endless options of inventory and low pricing. So the slogan is dead on. Think about it – I’ve never left Home Goods feeling ‘unhappy.’ But several weeks ago, I left in tears.
It was just an average weekday. I rushed out of the office to grab 2 of my little ones. I had about 45 minutes before I had to pick up my 7 year old, so I figured why not – I’ll just pass some time by stopping at the store. My 1 and 5 year old love the toys and I was hunting a curtain rod. I asked the clerk a quick question and in doing so, noticed the most charming lamp sitting on the back wall. I asked, “Are you holding that for someone?” pointing to the beautiful mint green fixture. She quickly looked up and said, “No, it’s for sale.” It was my lucky day. That’s the thing about Home Goods, you don’t even know you need or want something until you see it. In this short conversation, my daughter is pulling every piece of candy off the shelf she can put her fingers on. She is wiggling to get down as my 5 year old is pulling at my skirt, asking for a toy while simultaneously wining and telling me he wants to leave now. I’m already hot and sweaty and trying to balance 2 kids on each hip, while picking up cotton candy from the floor and balancing in 6 inch heels I should have had more sense than to buy. I’m sure from the outside, I looked like a mess. Arms and legs flailing, the poor clerk straining to hear my questions over now 2 moaning children. But just at that moment, a sweet lady came up behind me in line. I’ll never forget her face. She has the bluest of eyes. Just like the caribbean and thickly applied matching blue eye liner. Her hair was blonde and her smile was pure. But I never did catch her name. I mean, why would I ask a stranger her name in a store checkout line? I wish I had. We quickly chatted about a tag sticking out of my shirt, how big my daughter was and I believe a little bit about the heat. I told her good-bye. Still, never once did I think to get her name.
I yell to the clerk as I am pulling my climbing children off the nearby display, “Please save that for me ….I’ll be back after I look at curtain rods.” My voice fading off as I try to move quickly to the back of the store and rally my children at the same time. I would guess about ten minutes passed and I was back at the front to pay – not for a curtain rod, but for a pillow I had spotted along the way. The clerk looks at me and says, “This is yours too,” as she begins to bag it. “No! I didn’t pay for that yet.” With eyes glowing, she looks up and says, “You don’t have to …. someone bought it for you and she wants to remain anonymous.” Pure confusion running across my brain. “What? Who? Why? Are you sure?” The questions came out in rapid fire. The clerk, a dark haired woman I would guess to be in her late 40’s just smiled and said, “I can’t tell you!” I was stunned. In 40 years, this had never happened to me. Never had a stranger bought me a piece of gum, let alone a $30 lamp! I could feel the lump erupt in my throat as my 5 year old said, “Mommy, why did someone buy you that?” I looked down to find his eyes as puzzled as I felt. It was the most innocent of questions and truthfully I didn’t exactly know the answer. I kneeled down and looked him in the eye, speaking the only truth I knew. “Baby, this is called a random act of kindness. I think that lady I was talking to in line with the big blue eyes bought me this.” And suddenly everything in the store stopped. I could hear my brain and heart speaking to me. This is more than a lamp. This is a life lesson for my children. I kneeled down again, “Brix, whenever you go through life and you feel like people are mean and hateful … I want you to remember this moment. I want you to remember that the human race is still so good. I want you to remember that people will never forget how you make them feel. I want you to always know that you have the power to make someone else’s day. Today, love wins.” I looked back up at the store clerk, “It was that lady behind me in line when I first came in, wasn’t it?” She only shrugged her shoulders, “I think that’s a very good guess.” She winked. “Do you know her name so I can call her? Is it on her receipt?” I was desperately trying to figure out a way I could show this angel my appreciation. The answers were all no. “She didn’t want praise. She just wanted you to have the lamp.” That’s when I cried.
I rushed home as fast as I could get home to plug in my new lamp. I was grateful in a way I had not been for awhile. Not just for this pretty green lamp, but for the lesson a stranger taught my son. For the reminder that there is still so much greatness in humanity. I will never forget those ice blue eyes and blue eye liner. If this note ever gets to that mystery women behind me in line that hot summer day, thank you for making the world a better place. I wish she knew that every single day, I look at that lamp and think of her. Every. Single. Day. I say a little prayer that wherever she is, that she is happy. I will keep and cherish this lamp the rest of my life … not because it’s some expensive treasure, but because of the goodness it represents. I told my 7 year old the story when I picked him up … and when my 1 year old is a bit older, I’ll tell her too. I keep telling the story because we all need to hear it. One act. One person. It makes a difference. Be that difference. Like I said, it’s more than a lamp. It always will be more.