I’ve been going to ALDI lately. When my grandmother was alive and still healthy enough to do her own grocery shopping, she used to tell me about the great deals she would find at ALDI. Then a few years later, my mom morphed into my grandma and she would tell me how much she loved shopping there too.
I didn’t get it. I was self-absorbed and in my own little bubble of life. Saving money wasn’t a priority for me – I had plenty. I wasn’t wealthy at all, but I was well off enough that I didn’t need pinch every penny or bother with grocery store hopping just to find “good deals”. I could easily splurge $200 / week at a non-ALDI supermarket and come home with way fewer items. I was fine, I didn’t need to save on groceries.
Fast forward to this year – this one heck of a year – and ALDI is my favorite place to make the most out of $50. I’m no longer judgmental about people that go to places like ALDI. If you would have asked me if I judged before, I would have completely denied it. Now, in the shoes of someone that is carefully watching their expenses, I get it.
I GET IT.
Now onto the real reason why I started rambling — the lady at ALDI. First I have to back-up to the first lady that even got me noticing his kind of thing. When you go to ALDI, the carts are lined up right outside of the store. You must put a quarter in to release the cart. It’s okay though, you simply get your quarter back when you return the cart. This turns into an interesting human experiment to observe in the parking lot.
When you retrieve a cart, there’s almost always someone returning their cart too. Sometimes people wait patiently for one another to retrieve or return a cart. Sometimes impatiently. Sometimes a person that is returning a cart will hand off the cart to another person in exchange for their quarter. Others race to the carts to avoid the cart and quarter confrontation (this is pretty funny to watch).
And sometimes, like I witnessed a few weeks ago, someone will hand off their cart and refuse to take the quarter from the next person. A pay it forward kind of event.
I saw a lady do this and say just that to another person. She said “Here you go, no need for the quarter, just pay it forward.” I was like wow, things like that really happen.
And so I wanted to try doing the same when I came out of the store, but oddly enough there was no around to take my cart so that I could tell them to pay it forward. Darn it.
So the next time I went to ALDI, I did pay it forward and refused the quarter as I handed my cart to a man who looked astonished at what I had just done. He almost looked angry that I didn’t accept is quarter. I briskly walked away and told him it was okay as he was waving his quarter at me. I wasn’t trying to get a good karma quarter back, I just wanted to try it. Just wanted to spread some good will.
The next time I went to ALDI, I did it again. It felt good to do something nice, it wasn’t about handing out free quarters. I wasn’t shocked that I went shopping for weeks and didn’t get a “free” cart from a stranger not concerned about a quarter, but I did notice.
And then last night, I went to ALDI, and as I went to get my cart (with my quarter in hand), a woman handed me her cart and politely refused my quarter. I smiled, graciously thanked her, and went about my grocery shopping.
I want to thank that woman, not just for the free cart and saving me a quarter, but for making me smile and spreading positive vibes in the middle of the hot parking lot. And when I returned my cart, there was no one around, and I got my quarter back.
What goes around does come around. I learned that small gestures to make a difference, on the giving end and the receiving end. It may take time, but it happens.
And thank you mom and grandma, you were right about the big savings at ALDI.
Stifle Me Not
(By the way, I’m totally not being paid to endorse ALDI, I just love it there.)