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I was standing in the checkout line at Wal-Mart yesterday — had my things on the little conveyor belt, waiting patiently.  There was an older lady in front of me that kept looking back at me.  I smiled and then looked the other way, but she kept staring.  It became pretty awkward.  She had a lot of stuff and it wasn’t long before I’d already scanned every headline of the magazines in our aisle and looked at every package of beef jerky and candy bar 3-4 times.

Finally she actually walked back to where I stood in line and she said, almost tearfully, “I apologize for staring, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.  You just look so much like my daughter, who died not too long ago. I can’t take my eyes off you.”  I wasn’t expecting that and I’m sure my facial expression was comical.  She quickly opened her wallet and pulled out a photo of her daughter who’d died. I honestly didn’t see any resemblance but she seemed so moved.  We chatted a little bit while her groceries were rung up.

This is the crazy part: She then said to me, “I’m sorry, I have to ask you. Would you mind, as I leave the supermarket here, would you mind saying ‘Goodbye mom’ to me? I, I know it’s a strange request but it would mean so much to me to hear it.” My stomach did one of those flip-flops when something just plain weird happens, but I felt sorry for her so I said “uh…okay.” And so, she got her groceries all checked out and as she went out the door she waved at me.  I said sheepishly and not very loudly, “Goodbye mom”.  She smiled and left and I was very relieved.  Strange…

The cashier rang up my few things as I waited for the total.   She smiled at me very warmly and said, “That’ll be four hundred and seventy-nine dollars.” “WHAT?! There must be a mistake. How in the world did you get that total from these few things?” She replied, “Well, you’re also paying for the groceries for your mother. She told me you’d take care of the bill for her.”  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  “That’s not my mother!!” I said as my heart started beating faster and realization of the lady’s con job swept over me.

The confused cashier said, “But I distinctly heard you say as she left the store ‘Goodbye Mom’!” I looked frantically out into the parking lot and saw she was still just getting into her car – so I bolted.  I left my stuff at the register and ran out there as fast as I could.  She saw me coming and tried to shut the door really fast but a little bit of her leg was still sticking out of the door when I got there.   I grabbed her leg and started PULLING it!  No way was I letting go of this lady!  I wasn’t paying over 400 bucks for her stuff!  I kept pulling her leg and pulling…

Just like I’m pulling yours right now…

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