An older woman who worked as a cleaner in a grocery store to support herself was taken aback when the store owner approached her and took her mop away, revealing a bittersweet story from his past.
For 73-year-old Agnes Wilson, it had been any regular day at the Hanks General Grocery in Sunnyvale, California, when a thumping sound distracted her from cleaning. She hurried over to the milk aisle, where she suspected the noise was coming from, only to discover a customer arguing with a shop assistant.
"You fat goat! Didn't you notice that there was someone shopping here?" the enraged customer screamed at Frank, the shop clerk, who was a short and pudgy man. This morning, he was moving a milk carton trolley to replenish the shelves when a carton dropped on the man, splashing milk on him.
Agnes worked at Hanks General Grocery | Photo: Shutterstock
"I'm sorry, sir," Frank instantly apologized, taking up the carton in his hands, but the man's rage knew no bounds.
"Where is your boss? Call him right now! I won't let a scumbag like you linger here!"
"Please, sir," Frank pleaded. "I'll make it up to you. I request you not to complain. I'm a single father of three children, and this job is the only way I can support them."
"Then you should bloody know how to do your job properly! Has all that fat gone to your eyes that you couldn't see me, uh?!"
"Well, sir…" Frank had just started speaking when his tears choked him. He couldn't utter a word further and just stood there, silent. Meanwhile, all the shoppers had come to a halt to see what was going on. Some of them who felt terrible for Frank wanted to help him, but after seeing the angry customer, they decided it was best not to meddle in someone else's affairs.
"Now, why aren't you talking?" the man spoke up. "Do you think I'll let you off the hook if you just stand here like this?"
The customer was rude to Frank | Photo: Unsplash
Seeing Frank being tormented to death by the man's words, Agnes decided to intervene. "Oh, I assume there's some misunderstanding here," she remarked, approaching them with a cloth. "It's not Frank's fault at all, sir. I must have not carefully mopped the floor, which is why the trolley's wheels simply slipped on the damp floor, and the carton fell on you. My apologies."
"Wow! This place is insane! First, I come here and get my shoes untidy as a result of a fatty's error, and there's an old hag defending him. Who hired you guys? Is your boss blind?"
Arrogance won't lead you anywhere.
"I'm sorry for what happened, sir. I'll clean your shoes right now!" Anges sat on the floor and began wiping the man's shoes. But he wasn't done humiliating her yet. "Go away! You're making it worse! Do your job properly and clean the floor right now! I can't shop in such a dirty environment!"
Anges didn't say anything and swiftly grabbed her mop to scrub the floor. However, just as she was about to begin cleaning, she was interrupted by a voice. "How dare you treat my employees in such a way? Especially her. Do you even know who she is?"
Agnes worked as a cleaner at the grocery store | Photo: Pexels
When the shoppers looked back, they noticed a man in his early thirties standing there. Martin Hanks was the owner of the grocery store. He ran a massive chain of stores throughout California, each of which was overseen by a store administrator. Unfortunately, the store administrator, Lewis, had to take an urgent leave this morning, so Martin decided to check on the store himself. When he saw Agnes working as a cleaner, he couldn't believe his eyes.
"Please leave the mop, Mrs. Wilson," he urged, taking it from her grasp. "You don't have to do this, especially in front of such a nasty man as him!"
"But sir…" Agnes was perplexed as he stood there.
"Mrs. Wilson, I'm Martin Hanks, the owner of Hanks General Grocery. Didn't you recognize me? We've met before. And please don't call me sir. Please address me as Martin."
"Martin Hanks?" Agnes thought carefully, but she couldn't recall if she'd met him before. Lewis had told her that their employer was a young man, but she didn't anticipate him to be that young.
Martin stepped in to assist Frank and Agnes | Photo: Unsplash
"Just a moment, Mrs. Wilson. Let me clear this mess first," he said and turned to the angry customer. "We don't serve customers like you who don't know how to treat others respectfully. So get out of here before I call the security guards and have you kicked out!"
The man muttered as he walked away. Frank thanked Martin for stepping in and helping Agnes and him, and then Matin shared a short story from his past. "Can I please have your attention, everyone?" he requested as he turned to face the customers.
"Mrs. Wilson, what are you doing here? Didn't you work in a factory before?" he asked gently as he noticed consumers pouring out of the various aisles and forming a line in front of him.
"Uh, well….It happened after I lost my son. But young man, how do you know me?" she asked, still confused.
"You'll find out soon, Mrs. Wilson," Martin remarked with a smile, turning to face the customers.
Martin summoned all the shoppers | Photo: Unsplash
"Everyone… My mother and Mrs. Wilson used to work in a plant together 24 years ago. One day, I had followed my mother to work since I wanted to visit her workplace. Unfortunately, the entire building caught fire due to a short circuit. Everyone fled to save their lives, but none of them wanted to help me and my mother, who were trapped inside the building. Mrs. Wilson didn't care about her own life and went through flames to save us. Sadly, my mother died on the way to the hospital. My uncle took me in and raised me after that. So, ladies and gentlemen, this woman here is my savior, and no matter what I do, I can never return her favor."
Anges' eyes had welled up by the time Martin finished, and everyone at the store was applauding. She remembered that day very well.
Agnes had started working at the plant soon after her husband died to support her son. However, 5 years later, she suffered another tragedy when her son Derek died of cancer.
Her son's death forced her into depression and made her quit her job. She hardly interacted with anyone and shunned herself from the rest of the world. But as time passed, she realized she couldn't carry on like that. She started looking for a job to keep herself busy and eventually found one at the grocery store. She had no idea the grocery shop owner, Martin Hanks, was the same boy she'd once saved at her previous job; after all, it had been 24 years!
"Oh, Martin!" Agnes sobbed. "I'm so glad to see you."
Agnes is now a supervisor at the store | Photo: Pexels
"I'm happy to see you too, Mrs. Wilson, but please, you won't work here as a cleaner anymore. I am promoting you right now, and you'll be a supervisor here. Please allow me to do at least this much."
Agnes couldn't believe how her life changed in an instant. The boy she had saved not only offered her a better job but took care of her like a son.
Martin was married and had two daughters. He introduced Agnes to them as their grandmother and to his wife, his second mother. After meeting Martin and his family, Agnes never felt that she lacked a family, and she became a devoted grandmother to his children.
What can we learn from this story?
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