The Safeway Story: Be a Miracle


Do you believe in miracles & magic? Do you believe that without any doing of your own, an opportunity can be put in your path, a promotion can come your way unexpectedly, or a simple, kind gesture from a stranger can completely transform your day?

I believe in miracles, because I have seen they happen to me frequently throughout these last 5 years of loss & hardship.

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Lighting our candle for her best friend this year. She passed away unexpectedly at age 5, when my daughter was a precocious 3 & 1/2. Each year brings new waves of grief for us both in losing this beautiful child.

I was having a particularly rough day last week. Lots of emotions have been hitting on every front, one of which was the anniversary of my daughter’s best friend’s death. After several days of holding my 6-year-old while
she cried, seeing her understand death at a new level now, I was feeling emotionally exhausted. All the memories of the worst conversation of my life, telling her the news, hugging her best friend’s Mom at the service (meeting her for the first time at her daughter’s funeral), and years of her grievous outbursts of pain…all came flooding back.

I went to the grocery store with a tear-stained face, trying to hide my pain from the world.

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to hide like that, because nowadays, we rarely take time to acknowledge strangers. Few people stop to say hello as you pass them searching for peanut butter in the baking section. We are all guilty of it, especially on tough days, like the one I was having.

So, I was walking through Safeway,intentionally not looking up and acknowledging others. I didn’t want anyone to see me in my rawness and realness. And, I was in so much pain, I felt like people at Safeway certainly couldn’t understand what I was going through.

But, on this night that I took my tear-soaked sleeves and raw, naked me to Safeway, as I passed the back door to the stock room, an employee came out, and walked up along side me. He could have ignored me. Especially since I didn’t look at him, because I was hurting so much. But, he didn’t.

Even as I tried to hide my face pain, he reached out to me with his words and his heart, and said, “How are you tonight, mam?”

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“Fine. I’m fine. Thank you,” I replied curtly, as if to say, “Back off buddy, woman in pain over here.”

I thought he’d certainly leave me alone after that.

But instead, he looked at me again, and softly, with genuine concern in his voice, said, “Can I help you find anything tonight, mam?”

“I’m ok,” I replied, “But…thank you so much!” I finished, with a smile beginning to streak on my face.

Do you know…can you believe…that those words, in an instant, made me snap out of my pain-filled tortoise shell, poke my head out, and sigh a breath of relief?

I felt seen. Heard. Understood. Drawn out of my shell.

I held my head a little higher as I picked my produce and then headed to check out. When I got to checkout, there was only one lane open and 6 slow elders ahead of me. I groaned internally, and resigned to try to accept that as much as I wanted to avoid human interaction, I may be forced to wait it out a little longer.

Just then, I felt someone grab me by the arm from behind. It felt like a friend, lovingly taking hold of me, to lead me to safety.

I turned around, and it was Dana. The employee/man/sweet soul who had spoken to me at the back of the store before. “Come on over here, I’ll open a lane for you.”

Did he know how much pain I was in? How much it took for me to be in the world that night when I was hurting so much inside? How gut-wrenching it was to hold my daughter all week, knowing there was nothing I could do to take away her pain?

2014-02-05 10.11.58He looked down at his computer as he began ringing up my items. I said, “Thank you, Dana,” but he didn’t hear me. I thought about not repeating it. I was uncomfortable. But, I said it again anyway. Louder, I tried again, “Thank you SO much, Dana, for opening up a lane for me.”

And in that instant, he snapped out of his tortoise shell, looked up, and a smile came over his face. “Oh, yeah…you’re welcome!”

When he finished ringing up my items, I stopped, looked right into his eyes, and let him see my tear-stained face, “You know,” I said. “I was having a really rough day today, and you were nice to me, and that really meant a lot to me. You lifted my spirits.”

He was physically taken aback and stuttered as he replied, “Whha…wheee…well, thank you.”

Then, he went on…

“You know what, I was having a really rough day today, too, and the fact that you just stopped to tell me that – that I brightened your day a little? That brightens mine.”

He handed me the receipt and smiled.

“Well, you really did make a difference for me, more than you know.”

“Well, thank you,” he finished,” You made a big difference for me as well.”

His whole demeanor had changed. And so had mine. We both walked into that Safeway that night in pain, fighting our own battles. But, we both walked away, smiling, because of the kindness of a stranger. 

Who knows what his battle was. Maybe he had a fight with his wife. Maybe someone in his life died. Or, maybe he was just having a bad day at work. 

Didn’t matter. He knew pain. So did I. And we were joined in acknowledging that in each other through a magical little thing called…empathy.

It may not be exactly what Safeway trains their employees to do. But, it is certainly what this man did for me. Now, that’s going the extra mile.

be a miracle2Do you believe in miracles? Then ask for one. Right now. And watch what happens.

Or, better yet, BE the miracle in someone else’s life. Pick up the phone, call a friend you know is struggling, give a stranger at the gas station a couple extra bucks for gas, take an elder to a movie. Stop. Look up. Smile. Say hello. Say, “How are you doing?” 

You may be the difference in someone’s life today. You may be a band-aid to an open wound, a voice to a forgotten soul, a light to the depths of another’s darkness. You have that power. Use it wisely, today. And don’t ever forget what a simple act of EMPATHY can do.

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There’s a Random Act of Kindness Movement that has spread for years. My mission? I like to call it The Empathy Project. Oftentimes, it takes no more than a smile and a hello to spread empathy – to let someone know they’ve been seen & heard.

Will you join my mission & spread some empathy today? 

Like & share this post to spread The Empathy Project’s mission and comment below to tell us how you’ve made a difference in someone’s life by spreading empathy today.
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Update 2-20-14: This post has gone VIRAL! Thank you to all of you for coming to visit. I’m so grateful this story has touched you. Please click on “Follow Blog” if you’d like to hear about my journey of triumph in tragedy. In 4 years 20 people have died in my life, I lost my job, my home & much more, but I’m a comeback kid & now I’m teaching what I’ve learned – how to find peace in pain, how to overcome tragedy & create the life of your dreams no matter what you’ve been through. I hope to inspire you. More about me here. ❤

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13 thoughts on “The Safeway Story: Be a Miracle

  1. It’s that simple! Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been the miracle and received the miracle so many times, just allow yourself to be present in the moment. God schedules the Divine appointments.

  2. Dana is the dad of my best friend growing up. He is such a wonderful person- I’m glad you were able to raise each other’s spirits! Thanks for taking the time to share!

  3. Dana is my uncle, he has always been the soft spoken, strong hearted type, always been a source of positive reinforcement in my families life, this story brought back the dozens of trips to Corneille where I made some of my best memories with Dana and family. You are the man uncle Dana!

  4. Safeway’s CEO, Robert Edwards brought Dana to CA today to share this story at his Town Hall Meeting. Thank you for posting this to your blog and sharing with the world how strangers can make other’s day. It inspires to be better, to not just merely say “How are you?” and be okay with never getting a response, but to actually find out how the person REALLY is. Oh and BTW.. Thanks for shopping Safeway!

    • Stacy, thank you for taking time to tell me what happened! I have been wondering where all this traffic was coming from! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you shared this. I am so deeply, humbly amazed and grateful that Dana has been further acknowledged & honored for his kind heart. I am also deeply thankful that this story has touched you, and so many others, and inspired you. We love shopping at Safeway because the employees DO stop to help – it is the “Safeway Way.” But, even more so, this encounter reminds us that we are all human & share the common bond of tough times & experiences of pain. When we allow ourselves to feel that bond, it creates opportunities for life-changing connections. Putting yourself in another’s shoes for just a moment can open the door to transform a life. You never know how a simple act of empathy can open an heart or heal a hurt. Please tell your colleagues at Safeway that I am deeply grateful for what they’ve done to honor Dana, and to spread this message of kindness to strangers. It is profound to see how this story has impacted so many lives, all because of Dana!

  5. Megan, thank you for sharing your story. Dana use to work in the Sedona store and Always acknowledged me with a smile or a casual ‘how are you?’ It made me feel like someone noticed my presence and on those ‘bad days’ it really meant everything!
    I happen to run into the Cottonwood store and somewhat unfamiliar to the layout, I was lost. Not for long, because, Dana (from out of nowhere) presented a smile, asked and lead me to my needed item and I was on my way. He is a GEM! He deserves the recognition and a standing O!!

    • Lyn, thank you for taking time to leave a comment! I have heard so many people speaking to Dana’s kindness out of this – it doesn’t surprise me one bit! He is a sweet man with a big heart, and Safeway is lucky to have him! We all are.

  6. Megan…again thank you for acknowledging my husband and his goodness. You yourself sound like a kind and gentle person. We need more Dana’s and Megans in the world.

  7. Hello Megan,

    I am a Safeway employee, and fellow WordPress blogger. I found my way to your blog via our break room’s satellite feed of the town hall meeting where Dana was introduced, and saw a screenshot of this very blog post during that segment.

    You’re certainly right about the impact simple, small gestures can have on others. Even in the case of strangers. Empathy is a powerful tool when dealing with others, and particularly to bring them comfort.

    Your post made me think of the times I have been out on campus at San Jose State University (I’m an alumni) with my free hugs sign. It’s fun, and it brightens people’s day. And I enjoy doing it for that reason. Sure, I get some negative reactions, and folks who think I’m odd. However, I’m there for the positivity, and those who appreciate it. And for the people who just need a hug, of course.

    Feel free to read my post about the latest experience with it here: http://trevorsaurus.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/more-hugs-at-sjsu/

    – Trevor DeVincenzi

  8. […] of empathy.  A tremendous example of this was displayed earlier this year when a customer Megan, blogged about her experience in a store where she received empathy.  The result was transformative for […]

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