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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, August 28, 2006

Weekly Behavior Awards R Back...Sort of

You may have noticed we haven't posted nominees for Biggest Bum or Best Behavior for a couple of weeks now.

It's not that there haven't been standout examples of great behavior and extreme jerkery (I know, my creation). But for a long time we got just one or two nominations here and there, often thanks only to the contributions of Bronchitikat and Og.

So when I got bogged down working on stories about South Florida's juvie homicide problem - still not done with that, BTW, got a few more stories coming from me - I figured it was as good a time as any to let the nominations build up for a bit.

And that's what we've done. However, I'm not prepared to post 'em all tonight. We're always writing about numbnuts and knuckleheads. I wanted the comeback of the WBAs to be about strictly good behavior.

So check out this story courtesy of our friend Kevin, of


Tonight I stopped in at the North Miami Target to pick up a few items. After filling my cart with far more than I needed, I headed to the lengthy checkout line. There were three groups in front of me, a single man, a young mother with a couple of girls, and -- in the lead position -- a slightly older woman with two young children. Her cart was filled with kids' clothes, including some for children younger than these accompanying her. When Guillermo, the checker, finished the sale, there was a problem with her credit card. She was obviously upset, but not angry, more panicked. After a subdued conversation with the checker, she sighed, took her children by the hand, and walked away. At this the young man in front of me stepped around to the checker, pulled out his Visa card, and told Guillermo to re-ring the woman's purchase and put it on his card. He explained that he wasn't a relative, he just wanted to help her out, and didn't want the woman to know he was doing it. Another Target employee ran to the door to bring the woman back. Since her merchandise was still being re-rung when she returned, there wasn't any graceful way to keep her from knowing who was helping her out, so her eyes widened with incredulity when Guillermo explained that the young man was paying for her purchase. As soon as his own purchase was completed, he just grabbed his bundles of diapers and headed out, leaving the stunned woman and her children at the register. The biggest shock, to me, was when I got to the register myself and asked Guillermo what happened. He explained that it isn't that uncommon for people to help out the person in front of them with some change, maybe even a dollar or two. This, however, was the first time he had ever seen a complete stranger pick up an entire $453 tab. I don't know if this is something you'd want to follow up on or not. I don't have the clout of a reporter, so I couldn't exactly ask for more details. All I can offer is what I picked up from observation. The gentleman was in his early to mid-thirties, around six feet tall, thin, wire-frame glasses, with sharp features and close-cropped black hair. He was wearing a white polo shirt embroidered with the PC USA logo. This whole thing happened around 7:20 Wednesday night. You know, this is the kind of thing that practically defines mitzvah . On a day when not much has gone right, this stranger's kindness to another person cleared the air. My apologies for the long letter, but I wanted to get the details to you before they slipped from my soon to be NyQuil addled brain. Thank you for your time, and for your writing."


  • I need to hear more stories like gives me some sort of hope for mankind.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 PM  

  • That's incredible! You hardly ever hear stories of people doing things like this.

    By Anonymous Lissette, at 8:25 PM  

  • It is indeed a remarkable story. I'm not sure who it could have been, however.

    I don't know why, but the story unnerves me somehow. I guess I'm just suspicious of such a grand gesture. :(

    By Anonymous phil, at 1:31 AM  

  • I neeeeeeeeeeeded that story right now. I am speechless in the best kind of way.

    As for bums... You can probably guess who I'm nominating. I'm still in shock.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 6:51 PM  

  • Phil, if I hadn't been there I would be skeptical, too. However, the guy actively avoided any attempt to take credit for his good deed. Maybe he had some personal motive for his generosity, some sin for which he is atoning, but even if true it doesn't change the kindness of the action.

    By Blogger mkh, at 11:05 PM  

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