Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
Several years ago, Rachaele Hambleton was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman in front of her had her card declined.
The woman was “mortified” to discover she didn’t have enough.
She asked the cashier if she could make a quick phone call to her bank:
…I overheard her ring her ex and whilst attempting to whisper she asked why he hadn’t paid her maintenance in again.
Her tiny baby began screaming.
She became more flustered.
Hambleton offered to pay for the woman’s groceries but she refused.
The woman claimed she had no idea how or when she would ever be able to repay Hambleton, even offering to put items for her baby back on the shelf. Still, the mother of five insisted on paying for what the woman needed:
I told the cashier I would pay for her shopping & handed over my debit card.
She tried to stop me, told me she didn’t know when she would be able to pay me back and she offered to put all her items back — items such as Aptimil, nappies & wet wipes.
Hambleton reassured her that she didn’t expect any money in return, and while her generous offer was accepted, the woman wasn’t exactly overcome with emotion. As Hambleton wrote:
…she left the store looking broken & ashamed.
After returning to the car, Hambleton said she and her partner, Josh, argued over the gesture. They, too, had mouths to feed and bills to pay.
Josh cautioned her that she couldn’t save the world, so it was important to look out for herself.
For Hambleton, however, the act of kindness wasn’t about saving the world; it was about helping a woman with a situation that was all too familiar:
I was once a single mum to two tiny girls after we walked out of our family home with nothing except the clothes on our backs.
Despite me having a decent career with a company car allowance after my bills were paid I was left with nothing at the end of each month.
I had to work so hard to start over again and it was shit.
It was the shittest, hardest time of my life & my debit card declined on me every single month.
I went to bed and woke up every single day feeling like I had failed my children.
To her surprise, the part-time mummy eventually received an email from the woman who she had helped in the store.
The woman, named Tash, told Hambleton she did more than just help her provide for her baby; she had come along during a period of immense darkness. She wrote:
You had no idea but that day you saved my whole world.
The woman admitted that just 24 hours prior to their encounter she had begun taking strong anti-depressants for severe depression.
Her husband had left her and their 6-month-old, and her depression was so debilitating, she attempted to take her own life.
A few years ago Josh and I were stood at the conveyor belt in the supermarket waiting for the lady in front to pay for…
The woman was now back on her feet and wanted to repay Hambleton for her generosity. She had also regained her career, found a home, and was in the process of raising a “king.”
She told Hambleton that she no longer needed medication and thanked her for her help:
Forever grateful, keep doing what you do, you’re saving worlds.
As for Hambleton, she wrote that she knows she cannot save the world, but that every little bit helps:
So no, I can’t save the world — but I tell myself if I can help, if I can teach my children to help someone, somewhere, each day.
She continued, “If we show more kindness, more love and support to one another then surely, it can only make the world a better place, and after receiving this email last night I reckon I’m doing it right ?”