Patient Cashier's Life Changes After Story Goes Viral

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Ishmael Gilbert and elderly woman at TargetIshmael Gilbert and elderly woman at Target

After an Indiana Target employee's act of kindness and compassion towards an elderly woman went viral, he was rewarded in a big way.

In January, Sarah Owen Bigler took to Facebook to recount an experience she had while in a cashier’s line at a Glendale Target.

“I found a line with just one person ahead of me and began organizing my items on the conveyor,” she wrote. “After placing my items, I look up to see that the person ahead of me was an elderly woman. She was paying for her items with change and wanted to purchase each separately. Part of me, the part that had a long day at work, the part of me who had a 1 1/2 year old having a melt down in the cart, the part that had set an unnecessary timeline for Target and getting home, was frustrated with this woman and the inconvenience she had placed on me.”

Ishmael Gilbert, the employee who was ringing up the elderly woman, did not get frustrated or irritated. Instead, he graciously helped her, and his kindness affected Bigler.

“Then I watched the young employee with this woman,” Bigler wrote. “I watched him help her count her change, ever so tenderly taking it from her shaking hands. I listened to him repeatedly saying ‘yes, mam’ to her. When she asked if she had enough to buy a reusable bag, he told her she did and went two lines over to get one for her and then repackaged her items. Never once did this employee huff, gruff or roll his eyes. He was nothing but patient and kind.”

Bigler’s daughter was watching the man help the woman and that made her realize a life lesson was being learned right there in line at Target.

“As I was watching him, I saw that Eloise was too,” she wrote. “She was standing next to the woman, watching the employee count the change. I realized I hadn't been inconvenienced at all. 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.”

Bigler later found the store manager and told her how much the employee’s kindness and patience meant to her.

The story soon went viral, and Gilbert received a great deal of media attention.

“I just treated her, really, like she was my grandma, to be honest,” Gilbert told, according to The Huffington Post. “She’s not the fastest, [but] I’m not going to huff and puff and make her feel even more frustrated. I just helped her out and actually seen a smile on her face. So, that was the best part about it.”

Eventually, the media attention towards Gilbert died down and he continued working at Target -- with a little extra attention from customers.

“People from other states started coming in, just to shake hands and take pictures,” he said.

When a local manager of a dialysis center visited Gilbert at Target his future took an unexpected turn.

“I was helping out, once again, another customer,” Gilbert said. “[The dialysis center manager] saw me do the same thing also, and when she came to my line, she was like, ‘Hey, I like what you just did with her. That’s really good customer service.’”

The manager from Fresenius Medical Care gave Gilbert her card and soon after he interviewed with the company. He is now a patient care technician at the medical center.

The center is also paying for his education; he is studying to become a certified hemodialysis technician and eventually a registered nurse.

“It’s been going great,” Gilbert said of his new job. “When blessings come my way, I say sometimes it’s not always good to ask why. Sometimes, just take them as they come.”

Sources: Sarah Owen Bigler/Facebook, The Huffington Post / Photo credit: Sarah Owen Bigler/Facebook

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