From sarahbee_1029, Tales From Retail:
When I was working retail right at a year ago, I had an amazing encounter with such a precious customer. This time of year reminds me of the experience I can't wait to share.
One morning on my way to work, I stopped to check the mail to see if a certain package had arrived. It had (yay!). I had ordered what I thought was a small battery powered heater (like the equivalent of a necklace fan thingy, only a heater). Turns out, it wasn't batter powered (dang it!). I was wanting something I could take outside with me to stay warm on smoke breaks and on my walk home. Oh well, so I just decided I'd find someone to give it to at work.
I was about five steps away from walking through the double doors to the back room to clock in when I was stopped by a customer. She was very soft spoken and very polite, but something about her demeanor made her seem emotionally exhausted. This small lady, probably mid 30's asked me if I could please help her or point her to someone that could.
Knowing I could adjust my clock in time later, I said, "Of course I can! What can I help you with?"
She was looking for a certain brand of blankets that had been on clearance and were in a display bin last week. I worked in the back room at the time and it just so happens I was the one to take the display down the previous day and knew exactly where they were.
When I asked how many she needed, she said, "As many as $20 will buy." I thanked her for being so generous because I knew there were so many people struggling to stay warm this winter (assuming they were for charity). She smiled at me and I went to retrieve her blankets.
When I returned, I still had the heater under my arm (not sure why I hadn't stopped and put it in my locker while I was in the back room) and asked if she would mind taking it to donate with the blankets.
That's when she burst into tears. She explained that her house had burned down and was living in her friend's shed with her two young children and was just trying to keep them warm until after the weekend when they could find a better place to stay. I immediately knew this was why I had been sent the wrong heater.
She didn't want to accept it at first, but then I convinced her that I sincerely wanted her to have it. It was the tiniest gesture. A heater I was just gonna leave lying around. But she was incredibly grateful and gave me the best hug I've ever received from a stranger. We cried together for a minute and then parted ways.
The next week, I got a Christmas card thanking me for being so kind to, "me and my kids." No name on it or anything... and then it dawned on me. The heater was still in the box it had been shipped in and had my address on it. I will never forget this woman and how rewarding it was to be able to make a difference.
Edit: Wow, this story got way more attention than I thought it would. Thank you all so much for your kind words! Sometimes just being a decent human being to someone can create such heart felt response. You never know what people are going through and how far a very simple gesture can go.