Dear Stranger: You left before I could thank you, so I hope you read this

People stand in line outside a Trader Joe's in Hollywood.
People stand in line outside a Trader Joe’s in Hollywood. A reader says an act of gratitude in a grocery store checkout line prompted her to write a letter to The Times.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

To the editor: I was unable to thank a stranger for her kindness, so I hope she will read this in The Times.

At the supermarket, I was putting my purchases on the conveyor belt at the checkout when a woman approached me and said, “I saw what you did.” As I set down a loaf of bread that was in my hand, I turned to her to ask what she meant.

Something fell. I picked it up, thinking it was part of the bread wrapper. It was a crumpled $10 bill. It wasn’t mine. I turned to talk to the woman, but she was gone.


I stood there for a few seconds gathering my thoughts and realized what this was about. With all the distractions, I didn’t notice she slipped the money under the bread in my hand. I looked around and saw her at the exit. She smiled at me.

I told my sister, who was with me, to return this money to the woman and thank her for her gesture. She disappeared. What the woman saw me do was let firefighters go ahead of me in line. (I usually do.)

I wasn’t able to thank her for her act of kindness, so I will say it to her here: Thank you. I want her to know that what she did has been paid forward. Her $10 and my added contribution have been sent to the American Red Cross.

Ruth Lew, Sherman Oaks