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The Cashier

Yocheved Lavon

“Baruch Hashem!” he said. “I have enough for another roll. One more shekel, right?” “Right,” she said with a smile, outwardly sharing his gratitude for his windfall. Inwardly, she was stunned. So that was how it worked; he would eat a little more for breakfast or a little less, depending on how many coins he could find in his pocket on any given day. And either way, it was enough for him. Without saying a word, she thanked him for that shining moment, for what he’d just shown her.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

There was so much poverty here.

Kids came in to buy treats, and sometimes, when they handed over their sweaty coins, the cashier would tell them, “Sorry … you don’t have enough.” A young assistant manager named Chanan, a husky Moroccan Jew, would reach into his pocket whenever he happened to overhear one of these exchanges, and quietly make up the difference himself.

Many times already, customers on a strict budget had asked her to keep an eye on the subtotal. “Tell me when it reaches 200,” they would say. In the “reserved” corner of their shopping carts, they would hold back the items they considered luxuries, or that they didn’t really need this week … or perhaps, she reflected, that they didn’t need for their next meal. Each one of these kollel families had its own way of ranking the priorities. If they could, they would buy the extras. And if not, not.

In the afternoon, a little girl, around eleven years old, came to the counter with a loaded shopping cart. “I have 300 shekels,” the child announced. “My mother said it might not be enough for all this, so you should tell me when it gets close to 300.”

“Okay,” the cashier replied, and began scanning the items. It might not be enough…. She felt a sudden ripple of excitement. Turning to the child, she said, “Trust Hashem. What you need, you’ll for sure get.”


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