Amsterdam, November 2016: On a complétely different, non-political note..
After coming home from work the night before last, I went on my monthly big-grocery-shopping-spree where I head off to the organic store in the centre of Amsterdam and stack up on non-perishables for the upcoming weeks. It was just before 8 PM and after putting all the items on the belt and taking out my wallet, I saw that -strangely- almost all my cards were missing.
‘Oh, hold on..’, I said and checked the bag to see whether they were in there, or had perhaps fallen on the floor. The young boy behind the counter waited to see what I wanted to do. My debit cards were nowhere to be found and I figured they must have fallen out while changing bags a home. The store didn’t accept credit cards.
I asked whether I could take the groceries and pay the store via an immediate banktransfer when I got to my house? The boy went to ask the manager. While he did, his colleague offered to put the items away until tomorrow morning; they were closing up soon, so going home and coming back would probably take me too long. In the mean time, the first one returned and told me what was expected: a bank transfer was not allowed by management.
Eager to leave wíth the items, I turned to the one who had offered to store the groceries.
‘So.. what if I ask you if you’re willing to pay this personally, and I promise I’ll transfer the money to you upon my arrival at home?’
He smiled, slightly uneasy but looking quite willing.
“I would, but I don’t have my own debit card with me,” he said, while turning to face his colleague. “So that would mean you’d have to do it…”. The one put on the spot said he did have his card with him, but was’t sure whether he had enough money in the bank. The three of us looked at the items on the belt. There was a tray with 12 cartons of almond milk, multiple kilo’s of oats, big jars of honey, nuts, peanutbutter.. it would be at least 50 Euro. Then the manager came around. I asked him the same thing in a last attempt and he looked at me and the two boys completely puzzled. “Pay with my own money? No… no, we’re not going to do that.”
Too bad. I apologised for the inconvenience of them having to put the groceries back and got ready to leave the store. Admittedly, slightly disappointed. Of course I know that when asking people these straight-forward things, it’s normal someone says no. Yet I realised it had actually never happened before.
Then, just as I had turned around and walked towards the exit, a man who’d apparently overheard the conversation stopped me and said: “Well, I am willing to take the risk. Come on.” Só cool! We shook hands, his name was Paul. He paid the groceries -which indeed totalled to 51,50 Euro- and I took this picture while telling him how much he made he evening. The two boys loved it. Even the manager, observing us in amazement, smiled.
A super nice twist to the day ánd the perfect preparation for my talk on exactly this topic at TEDxAmsterdam next week (about the power of recéiving kindness)! Yay.
Ps. The debit cards turned out to be at the bottom of my laptop bag at home. And my oats would’ve tasted better yesterday morning, had the outcome of the elections been different, but the thought of who paid for them still put a smile on my face:)