He watched from the sidelines as the old man’s face blushed red with embarrassment. It was clear that all these new checkout systems confused him and that he felt terrible about holding up the line.
But he took a double-take when he saw how the cashier was reacting to the poor man’s plight. In fact, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Whipping out his phone, he snapped the picture that would make the unsuspecting cashier famous.
Tim McKellar and his wife had just finished their weekly shop at the Dollar General Store in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. But while they were waiting in line, they became aware of a situation unfolding at the counter.
There was a man standing at the front of the line. From the cap that he was wearing, Tim immediately recognized him as a veteran. But it was how the cashier was treating poor Mr. Neal that really got his attention.
Usually, Mr. Neal paid in cash. As an elderly man, he never really felt safe using his bank card and if he was being honest, the new technology scared him a little.
But when he looked in his wallet to pay for his items at the Dollar General Store that day, he suddenly realized he had a big problem on his hands.
This was very unlike Mr. Neal. Before he leaves the house, he always makes sure he has his wallet, cash, keys, and mobile phone in case of emergencies.
But with this particular day being the anniversary of his wife’s death, the old man had set off for the grocery store in a bit of a fluster. And now the cashier was staring right at him, waiting for him to pay.
With no cash and no choice but to use his bank card, Mr. Neal reached into his wallet and handed the cashier the card. “Ahem… You have to touch it to the terminal, sir,” said the cashier impatiently.
“Oh.. right,” replied the old man. He’d never used contactless payment before, so innocently pressed the card up against the keypad. The cashier rolled her eyes, snatched the card from him and scanned the card herself. But now an error message flashed up on the screen. Mr Neal didn’t understand any of this.
“Maybe… You could try again?” asked Mr. Neal. The line behind him was getting even longer now and the man considered dashing out of the store in embarrassment.
But that’s not how he dealt with his problems. And he needed the groceries. The cashier angrily swiped the card again, but this time something unexpected happened.
The card was accepted. “It happens,” said the cashier abruptly, not even looking Mr. Neal in the eye. “Type your PIN, please.”
PIN? Mr. Neal had always gone into the bank to withdraw cash, he didn’t know what his PIN was. After all, his wife had dealt with this kind of thing. “Can’t I just sign?” the old man pleaded. Then, one shopper spoke up.
“Can you hurry it up!?” screamed the impatient shopper. “I’ve got to get home for lunch!” Without any cash, PIN, or help from his fellow customers, Mr. Neal thought it was probably best if he just left.
But when the angry woman marched over to him as he stood with the useless card in his hand, he really started to panic.
The woman had completely lost her cool. “It’s just four numbers! Just type ‘em in! How hard is that?” she screamed at the elderly man. But it was no good. He had no idea what his PIN was.
“I’ll just put these items back,” he said timidly and turned to take his basket back into the store to return his groceries to the shelves. But then an arm reached out across the counter.
The cashier had met people like Mr. Neal before and wasn’t going to stand for it. Everyone else in the supermarket had brought the right money, so why couldn’t he?
Reaching across the counter and resolving this situation was the only thing to do. If only the cashier had known what was about to happen would go viral.
Tim decided to take to social media with what he had just witnessed in the Dollar General Store that day.
Tim’s Facebook post began: “EVERYONE PLEASE SHARE THIS: I just witnessed one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen and would love to share the story with y’all and give credit where it’s due.”
“An elderly gentleman was trying to buy a few things at the Dollar general in Sallisaw Oklahoma when his card was declined because he couldn’t remember his PIN number,” Tim continued, determined to share his story.
“He tried a couple of different times when another lady offered to help him again with no luck.”
“That’s when the off-duty cashier Jacob Wittman pulled his wallet out and told the lady to scan his card which ended up working without any problem,” Tim wrote.
He continued to describe what had happened, to the disbelief of Facebook users everywhere. “The old man was wearing his veteran hat and was obviously confused.”
You see, Off-duty cashier Jacob Wittman had been waiting in line behind Mr. Neal and had watched the whole thing. He reached over, took Mr. Neal’s card, and handed it back to him. The old man was confused, “Son, did you just pay for my groceries?”
“Yes, sir, I did,” said Jacob. “And, you don’t owe me a dime.” Mr. Neal couldn’t believe the kind gesture. But Jacob had no idea that someone else was watching.
Tim McKellar took a photo of Jacob so he could let the world know how kind he’d been. “Now this kid obviously makes minimum wage,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “Or real close to it. And probably didn’t have the extra money to spare,” he wrote.
“I thanked him for what he had done, asked for his name, and took his picture. Let’s give this Good Samaritan the acknowledgment that he deserves.” And the Facebook community was happy to oblige.
Tim McKellar, who has over 2,000 friends on Facebook, made sure that the post would be shared far and wide.
Of course, it wasn’t long before the comments began pouring in. People were hailing Jacob as a hero for what he had done for one of their veterans. But the story doesn’t end there.
Tim McKellar’s post received more than 3,000 likes and was shared thousands of times. “Such an awesome act of kindness. I can’t believe there were people getting angry at you!” read one comment.
“Jacob, you are a good-hearted young man. Thank you for helping the elderly and veterans. God bless you!” another commenter wrote.
After the post had been circulating for a few weeks, someone happened to recognize Jacob.
Tim thought it was only fit to write an eagerly-awaited update to his post: “P.S after people recognized him and started tagging him in the comments I was able to send him a friend request and add him to the post.”
Everyone’s been in a predicament at some point in their lives. Couldn’t we all learn a thing or two from a man like Jacob?
Tim hopes that his post will inspire more random acts of kindness in his home town — especially toward the vulnerable veteran community who have contributed so much to society and deserve our help and respect. And it seems to be working already…
Another user commented on Tim’s post, saying: “I did a similar thing with a little boy in a takeaway cafe. His dad had taken his son’s money out of his wallet, so I folded the same note and handed it to the little boy and he was so excited that his dad couldn’t thank me enough! As I left the cafe, I felt so good for making that little boy smile!”
Acts of kindness — no matter how small — really make the world go round!