It was one of the tough days that call for a treat. On that particular evening it was the bar of rather expensive dark chocolate with cherry and chilli pepper that had the task of saving my evening. I had a gnawing headache that was so subtle it was hard to notice. When it was my turn to pay at the grocery store, I realised I didn’t have enough money on my bank account and Swiss chocolate had to go. (I have to explain here that I do not owe or use a credit card.) It was not such a big deal: I needed to get home to my PC and transfer some money from the electronic saving account to the one that was connected to my Visa card.
Wondering over how the money ended so soon and what caused the wretched headache, I picked up my stuff and started walking away from the grocery store. Suddenly I head someone calling for me and when I turned, there was a middle-aged man standing behind me with the chocolate bar in his hand and a grin over his face, “Here, this is yours”. I sighed and prepared to explain to the enthusiastic stranger that in fact, he mistook himself and I haven’t paid for the chocolate, noticing how with every word the throbbing pain inside the skull was rolling from said to side. “I know”, he said smiling, “I have. Take it!”. Still wondering if there was some mistake, I glanced towards the counter and saw a 12-year-old girl watching me and her dad, a huge smile across her face, waiting for her dad to return. The headache was intense and I could hardly make an effort of smiling. All of a sudden I felt like crying.
Not that a similar act of kindness would be unheard of in this part of the world. Swedish people give to charities now, in the times of crises, more than ever. What moved me most was that those two paid enough attention to someone else to notice the person’s concerns and state of mind. (I must have looked miserable over there at the counter with that chocolate that I could not afford. They could not know the headache was killing me and I just wanted to get home. And it did not matter!) I thanked them both, took the chocolate and walked out of the store with an attempt to a smile on my face, the chocolate bar pressed against my chest and a warm feeling inside: my evening was saved, chocolate or not, and the headache could go hang itself. The chocolate I was about to buy was supposed to console me, make me feel special (what else are we buying when we shop for luxury products, something we don’t really need?) and I got all that from a couple of total strangers who reached out and let me known I was not all by myself. Who could set a price tag on that?
I really appreciated the not so typical for the Swedish society act of reaching out to a stranger just like that, in the daylight, with no strings attached. I imagine quite a few people could think of acting the same way towards a person in line but most could be stopped by the fear of making a full of themselves, attracting attention, or being suspected of having some agenda. Just doing something without consideration for oneself is a true act of generosity. In fact, we are offering ourselves, not the thing we do or give.
Now, what’s your chocolate story? How did you feel receiving somebody else’s offering?