Malilong: A story that warms the heart… and more

Frank Malilong
·3 min read

It is often said that the worst of times can also bring out the best in people. But honestly, could this ever happen to us?

“This” is about a grocery store in Leander, Texas, allowing its customers to walk out the door pushing cartloads of unpaid purchases last week when the state was under a state of emergency in the wake of a severe winter storm that overwhelmed its power grid, resulting in electricity going off in many parts of Texas including Leander.

The extraordinary story was told to the Washington Post by one of the customers who benefitted from the H-E-B store’s act of human understanding. Tim Hennessy and his wife were still inside the store when the lights suddenly went out, followed by a collective groan coming from the customers.

Hennessey said they immediately went to the check-in counter to pay and found about 20 carts already ahead of them while some 200 other shoppers were still doing their rounds. “No one told the shoppers to put their items back if they couldn’t pay cash,” he recalled.

When it was his turn to pay, the cashier just waived Hennessey on, thanked him and told him to drive safely. “And it hit us, wow, they’re just letting us walk out the door,” he said. Ahead of him were shoppers pushing carts filled with items that were also not paid for. It made him tear up.

The store’s kindness was contagious. Outside, the shoppers helped each other, pushing carts that were getting stuck in the snow, picking up groceries that tumbled from the carts and in one instance, helping an elderly woman drive her car out of the ice where her tires were spinning.

They were paying it forward. “People are really good, and you see it in tougher times,” he told the Post.

Without doubt, we also have a wealth of instances of heroism and Christian compassion displayed during times of crisis. We have read about soldiers, policemen and ordinary people risking their lives, sometimes even losing them, to save others.

Still the Texas story is unique. It is almost unimaginable in this country, even during the worst of crises. No businessman is going to allow his people to waive you on, thank you and wish you to drive carefully home with your unpaid purchases.

What’s going to happen when the lights go off, even in the middle of a killer storm, is that the security guard will shut the door to prevent you from leaving if you haven’t paid yet. And if you have no cash but only a credit card which they cannot process because of the power outage, the cashier or saleslady will order you to put back the items in the shelves or leave them at the cashier’s table.

You know what else is going to happen during a crisis? Hoarding and sharp price increases. Do not blame me if sometimes I don’t find it hard to believe that in this country there are people who would rather part with their life than with their money.

Of course, I will be happy if I am proven wrong.