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This is how a simple act of kindness and a grumpy old man helped a South African finally grieve the loss of her father… but more importantly, honour her father’s legacy with gentleness, goodwill and “recalibrating the universe”.


South Africa (16 May 2022) – Tracey Ferro – an avid Good Things Guy reader – shared a heartwarming post about how an act of kindness and a grumpy old man helped her grieve her father… and more importantly, honour her dad’s legacy.

The kind South African was at the teller of a grocery store when the cashier mistakenly rang up items from another shopper.

“The teller was ringing up my items, and as she came towards the last of my items, I started digging in my handbag to find my wallet to get out my card to pay. When I looked up, I noticed that she had accidentally started adding a couple of items of the person behind me,” Tracey Ferro explained.

She looked at how many items were there and thought, “I might as well just pay for them”.

“It was a small pack of chicken, a 1L ‘doos’ wyn, a small packet of biltong, four paninis and green veg. It wouldn’t have been more than R150.00 in total.”

The South African thought she would do a good deed for the day – shine some light on someone else, while her own days have been pretty dark lately. Suddenly Ferro was confronted by an elderly gentleman who screamed at her that he had smart shopper points that he needed to use before they expired, that he didn’t need any charity from anybody, and that he probably had more money than she would ever have, and that he had never been so insulted before.

“I apologised to him, wanting to explain how it came to be that I wanted to pay for his items, that I didn’t at all intend to insult him, I just wanted to do something nice for someone. But he wouldn’t give me a chance to speak, continuing to scream at me. I asked the teller to remove the items from my bill, apologised for the inconvenience, thanked them for their service and went on my way. I unpacked all the groceries into the boot of my car, sat in the driver’s seat, and cried my eyes out for over 15 minutes.”

You see, Ferro lost her dad recently. It has left her with so many responsibilities and the task of making significant decisions that not only affect the future of herself and her children and that of her sibling and his children.

“It’s been a really tough few months for me. I’ve felt that I have had to safeguard my children’s mental health – they were extremely close to their grandad – and that I’ve had to be big and strong and make so many decisions I wasn’t ready to make and still work every day and do housework and cook and shop and – well – everything really. I’ve felt like I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s been exhausting. It has meant that I haven’t really given myself the space to grieve, and my self-care has been non-existent. It has just been a really dark time for me”

But in that moment of the ‘confrontation’ with that grumpy old man at the grocery store, it reminded her how very lucky she was to have had a dad who was always kind, gracious, humble and loving and would have NEVER spoken to anyone in the manner she was spoken to.

“He was the epitome of a gentleman. I spent almost the whole of yesterday wondering what I did wrong: I assume that his smart shopper points were going to expire that day (and we all like freebies); maybe I did insult him by not confirming first whether I could pay for his groceries as a kind gesture, the chances are he DOES have more money than I do (that’s not difficult), maybe he’s just not good at accepting kindness in any form – I don’t know.”

“I don’t know what his life is like or what pressures he is under. But I do want to say something to that grumpy old man: THANK YOU. Thank you for your behaviour that took me aback.”

“Yesterday, for the first time since my dad passed, I allowed myself to cry, to mourn the man that was crafted of greatness, empathy, kindness and humbleness; I allowed myself to feel those vulnerable feelings that I’ve pushed aside whilst I take care of others. To wish that I could see his soft face again; To admit to myself how much I miss him and how lost I feel without him. To hug him once more and tell him I love him – your behaviour pushed me to do that, and I am so very grateful to you. I will continue to offer kindness, even if someone doesn’t accept it – as you did. And my hope for you is – that your family – or someone – loved you a little harder and longer yesterday because you need it!”

Farro shared the story with a request for Good Things Guy. In the spirit of this, the kind South African wanted to double what she would have spent on that gentleman’s groceries and asked for advice on what charities or organisations she should support.

We suggested checking out “For Good” or “BackaBuddy” as there are so many causes that her R300 would help. We also explained that what Farro was doing was called recalibrating the universe.

When we are faced with unkindness, negativity and toxic people or situations, then it is our duty to recalibrate the universe with the opposite, but that action of goodwill doesn’t need to be directed at the people or things that have wronged us. People can only meet you as far as they have met themselves, and some people still have a very long road to go… so our job is to let them go. And then make the journey easier for someone else.

Restore the balance by doing something good for someone else. Don’t let the cruel make you unkind, and don’t let the unkind make you cruel; rather take the bad and feed it with all the love and kindness.

Leave people, places and situations better than you found them. That’s how we recalibrate the universe.

Sources: Tracey Ferro Interview 
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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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