An Open Letter to the TJ Maxx Stranger
To the stranger in TJ Maxx:
I thought you should know that you and your sweet Maltese pup, Finn, made my Sunday a little brighter.
I chuckled to myself when I realized that you were on FaceTime with your daughter, showing her the different hair tools and helping her pick one out. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. It’s just that I couldn’t help but think about my own mother and how she would do the same thing with me. I may or may not have also been making faces at Finn and wishing I could pet him.
When you ended your call, Finn was whining in the shopping cart wanting to be held. Nostalgia hit me once again thinking about my Pomeranian, Ouiser, and how she would be up on her hind legs whining even louder. At that moment I wish I could have had her there with me. I asked to pet Finn and he was a love. I think that was somewhat of an icebreaker for you and me to strike up a conversation.
We went from talking about our spoiled fur babies to differentiating between the different brands of purple shampoo. I could talk about dogs and hair/beauty products for days and it seemed like you could, too.
Mrs. TJ Maxx, there’s one thing we didn’t talk about, and that is how much our conversation, that interaction, meant to me. You didn’t know me from Adam. I was a stranger that you will likely never see again, but you took the time to stand in the hair care aisle for at least 15 minutes and talk to me. All too often we come across random strangers, make simple comments to be nice or start a conversation and we are turned away (sometimes with a “stank” face). You weren’t one of those people. You smiled, asked my opinion on products, and actually listened to what I had to say.
Why did this matter so much to me? Well, there’s one more thing you don’t know, couldn’t have known. I have crippling anxiety. It can get really bad when I am in public places. The funny thing is that I am big on retail therapy. So, when I go shopping, I don’t typically talk to anyone.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons I choose to stay to myself is that not everyone is as kind as you were to me. For the duration of our conversation, I felt as though I was in a safe space. I was unjudged. I was just one person having a normal conversation with another person. That, Mrs. TJ Maxx, is why our conversation meant so much to me.
I want you to know that the world needs more of “you” these days. It needs kindness. It needs acceptance without stipulations. It needs less judging a book by its cover.
So, I want to say thank you. Your simple act of kindness, no matter how small it may have seemed at the time, told me everything I needed to know about you. I promise to share more kind acts with others just as you did with me.