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Elderly woman with a cane walks in a department store | Source: Getty Images
Elderly woman with a cane walks in a department store | Source: Getty Images

'Out, Hobo!' Luxe Store Guard Bars Old Lady Until He Feels Strong Tap on Shoulder — Story of the Day

Caitlin Farley
Jun 11, 2024
05:39 A.M.

Rose bursts into tears when a rude store security guard shows her to the door of a luxury department store. Just when she thinks her day can't get any worse, a man taps the guard on the shoulder and takes over the situation.

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Rose paused at the entrance to the department store. She was painfully aware of her shabby coat and the loose soles of her shoes, which were peeling away from the uppers. Everyone else entering or leaving the store was well-dressed in designer labels.

"I don't belong here," Rose muttered to herself.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

The looks she received from the people who passed her suggested they agreed. One man pulled his lips into a sneer and gave her a wide berth. A woman wrinkled her nose and stepped aside as though Rose were bad weather.

Rose sighed. She considered walking back to her car and leaving, but only for a moment. Mr. Rogers was expecting her. She'd never been late to an appointment in over sixty years and didn't intend to start now. Rose marched up to the automatic doors and stepped inside.

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The department store was huge! It reminded her of the warehouse her late husband worked in, but far fancier. She strolled along a pathway of lush carpet leading from the entrance. She paused to admire a handbag when she heard somebody shout.

Rose turned and saw a security guard rushing toward her. Fear bloomed in her chest. Was there a robber in the store? Was she in danger? She looked around but didn't see anyone who looked suspicious.

"You're out of here." The security guard grabbed Rose's arm.

"This is an upmarket establishment and you don't belong here. Out, hobo!"

Rose couldn't believe her ears! Other shoppers were watching them now, and Rose felt a blush creep up her neck.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"Mr. Rogers invited me here," she told the security guard as he marched her back towards the automatic doors at the entrance.

The guard laughed. "I don't know how a ragged hobo like you knows that name, but I wasn't born yesterday. Mr. Rogers wouldn't even wipe his shoes on trash like you."

Tears sprang to Rose's eyes. Nobody had ever been so nasty to her before. She wanted to stand up for herself, but what could she say when her clothes were so badly worn? She did look like trash.

A hand appeared on the security guard's shoulder and tapped him hard enough to make the man flinch. He spun around, and Rose saw Mr. Rogers standing behind the guard.

"You're fired," Mr. Rogers told the guard with a grim smile. "Anybody as cruel as you is not welcome on my payroll."

The guard and all the nearby customers watched in surprise as Mr. Rogers walked up to Rose and begged her forgiveness for the guard's rudeness. He then took her hand and kissed her on the cheek.

"You deserve to feel like a queen in this store, because that is exactly what you are," Mr. Rogers said.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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A few days earlier...

Rose tried not to stare at the familiar man standing in the queue beside her at the grocery store. However, she couldn't figure out where she recognized him from, so she kept sneaking glances at the young man.

He turned a little and swept his blonde hair away from his forehead. Rose noted a scar above his right eyebrow, and suddenly the pieces fit together.

She reached into her wallet and removed a photograph. In it, her deceased son stood beside one of his comrades-in-arms. Both were in uniform and had their arms around each other's shoulders. Behind them, the Iraqi desert stretched toward the horizon.

Rose peered at her son's comrade in the photo, then looked again at the man in the queue. She did this several times before stepping to the side to tap the man on his elbow.

"Excuse me."

Rose held up the photo to show the man. "This is you, isn't it?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Johnathan had been daydreaming when he felt the woman tap his elbow. When he looked down, he was so surprised to see the photo that he dropped his basket of groceries.

"Yeah, that's me and Tristan. He was my best friend over there." He took a closer look at the woman. "Who are you?"

She gave him a faint smile. "I'm Tristan's mother."

"Oh." Johnathan immediately took her hand between his. "I'm so happy to meet you, Ma'am. Your son was a great man. I still think of him every day."

The woman pressed her lips together and nodded. "I do too. We all miss him so much."

The cashier called for the woman then, interrupting their conversation. There was so much more Johnathan wanted to say to her. He looked on as she packed a few items onto the counter for the cashier to ring up. They were mostly cheap, low-quality items.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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She started counting out small change from a coin purse to pay for her shopping, and Johnathan suspected the woman had financial struggles. His guess was confirmed when she asked the cashier to return the milk.

"I'll pay for it." Johnathan stepped forward and presented his card to the cashier. The older woman objected, but he insisted.

Outside, Johnathan took the woman's grocery bags. "I'll carry these for you," he said. "I'm very happy I ran into you today, Ma'am. I've been thinking of looking up Tristan's family, but I wasn't sure it was a good idea to reach out."

"Why?" The woman frowned at him. "And please, call me Rose."

"Well, Rose, I feel like I have so much to say and yet I have no idea how to say it."

He struggled to look at her as he followed Rose to her car. "The war... it was one of the worst times in my life and Tristan... I was with him when it happened."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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Rose gently placed her hand on his arm. "That must've been awful for you."

"It was. When my time was up, I couldn't bear coming home. I traveled around South Asia, then the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia. Met some great people along the way, and some of them helped me feel more like the person I was before the war."

Johnathan sighed. "I returned a little over a year ago and bought a business. I also started seeing a therapist. But what about you, Rose?"

"I've been getting by." Rose unlocked the trunk of an old car. "I moved in with my daughter-in-law to help her with the kids. She works two jobs to provide for them. I don't have much in this world, but I help where I can." She smiled at him then. "I just wish Tristan could see his kids growing up."

"He was so proud of his family," Johnathan said softly. He looked again at Rose's groceries and old car and knew he needed to do something for her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"Won't you join me for dinner next week?" Johnathan asked.

He suggested a restaurant he'd discovered a few months ago. Rose's eyes widened in surprise, and she shook her head.

"I couldn't meet you there," she replied. "I've got nothing to wear to such a fancy place."

"Please, Rose." Johnathan put the groceries in the trunk and took Rose's hands in his.

"I owe you at least this much, for Tristan's sake. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for him."

Rose frowned at him. "What do you mean?"

Johnathan bowed his head as the guilt he'd worked so hard to resolve settled over him once more. "Tristan died because of me."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"That can't be right," Rose replied. "They told me there was an ambush."

Johnathan nodded. He told her how the insurgents appeared from nowhere and attacked their convoy, about the bombs and screaming that followed. The sounds had lived on in his nightmares since that day.

"Tristan dragged me from the transport. He found a building and stood guard over me, gave me first aid." Johnathan swallowed the lump in his throat. "He kept me alive, and when they surrounded us... he fought to the last. He used his body to shield me."

He still remembered the moment Tristan went slack, and he realized his friend was gone. The hours he spent waiting for a unit to recover him were unbearable. But that pain was between him and his therapist. Rose was already in tears, and he saw no need to upset her anymore.

"Please, join me for dinner next week. Don't worry about clothes. I own a department store in town. Come by tomorrow and pick up anything you like; it's on me. If the staff have any questions then tell them Mr. Rogers gave you a personal invitation."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Present Day...

Rose stepped out of the changing room and stared at herself in the mirror. It had been several years since she bought herself new clothes, and that had been to replace a pair of socks she couldn't darn anymore. Never had she dreamed she'd wear a dress like this!

"That looks excellent," Johnathan said. He glanced at his watch. "I'm sorry to cut this short, but I have an important meeting to attend."

Johnathan turned to the young assistant standing nearby. "Please ensure this wonderful woman has some shoes to go with her new dress. And anything else she might need. Some new clothes for her grandchildren, perhaps."

"That's too much."

"It's not nearly enough, actually." Johnathan gave her an earnest look.

"And from now on, I want you to let me know if there's anything you and the rest of Tristan's family need. The very least I can do for him is make sure his family is safe and happy."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Rose took Johnathan at his word. She picked new clothes and shoes for the children and her daughter-in-law, Maria. When she arrived home and presented the clothes to Maria, the woman burst into tears.

"Tristan must be looking out for us from heaven," Maria said. "How else could we be so lucky?"

Rose put her arms around her, and the two women sat silently. They both contemplated their terrible loss and the hardships they'd endured since Tristan died.

"We are indeed blessed," Rose said after a while. "I feel like I was meant to meet Johnathan at the grocery store that day."

"I think so, too." Maria wiped her eyes. "It sounds like he went through hell when Tristan died. I can only imagine the scars the experience left in that poor man's heart."

Rose nodded. She'd seen the haunted look in Johnathan's eyes. It was a look she knew from her youth when men started returning from Vietnam. Rose realized then that war left scars not only on the body but also in the hearts and minds of all who survived it.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Rose joined Johnathan for dinner the following week. They spoke for hours about Tristan and their memories of him. It was sad for both of them but also healing.

A little while later, Rose introduced Johnathan to Tristan's widow and children. Soon, he visited weekly to bring gifts and necessities for the family. After a year, Johnathan was like a member of the family.

There were still nights when Johnathan woke up in a sweat from nightmares, but he comforted himself with the knowledge that Tristan was surely looking down on them all with a smile.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Treat all people with courtesy and respect. Although Rose wasn't dressed well, the security guard shouldn't have been so insulting to her. He judged her on her appearance without knowing anything about her.
  • Kindness can open the door to healing. When we are kind to others, we not only improve someone else's life but also open our hearts to the goodness in this world.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who fires a pregnant maid only to discover he's related to her baby.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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