Ishmael Gilbert had only been working at the Glendale, Ind., Target for a few days when an elderly woman approached his checkout line to purchase her items. The 19-year-old rang up her items and then learned that she would be paying for them in coins.
“She was all worked up because the line was getting longer and she was moving so slow,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “She was shaking.”
Sarah Owen Bigler and her daughter were behind the woman, and initially the mother was annoyed that the woman was using change to make her purchase.
“But then I watched the young employee with this woman. I watched him help her count her change, ever so tenderly taking it from her shaking hands. I listened to him repeatedly saying, ‘Yes, ma’am’ to her.”
Bigler wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral. “I realized I hadn’t been inconvenienced at all,” she wrote. “That my daughter was instead witnessing kindness and patience and being taught this valuable lesson by a complete stranger; furthermore, I realized that I too needed a refresher on this lesson.”
Gilbert told the news site that he had no idea that the he’d become a viral sensation.
“I was asleep at home and everyone was texting me, ‘Check Facebook, check Facebook,’” he said. “I never thought it’d blow up this big. Her post, I guessed it touched a lot of people.”
Gilbert told the Star that since the post, customers have recognized him and tried to give him money or job offers, but he added that he is comfortable with his current gig. Glendale Target Team Leader Todd Davis told the news service that his kindness in the past week will help his career at the store.
Gilbert has since had the opportunity to meet Bigler, who came back into the Target with her daughter.
“It just feels good to be recognized for good work,” he said, adding that he got to hug Bigler and thank her for her kind words. “But this isn’t something new. I treat all customers the same, the way I want to be treated.”