Veteran in Disbelief When Young Man in Front of Him Pays for Groceries & Vanishes


It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday rush of life. As a society, we have become so impatient because everything we want and need is at our fingertips.

I think one of the best examples of this is in line at the grocery store. People get antsy waiting in a line as the cashier — doing their job — scans and bags items as quickly as they can.

But as Alana Ruthann pointed out in a Facebook post, taking a few seconds to slow down and not rush through life can show that “life is pretty beautiful.”

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Ruthann was standing in line at Walmart, waiting to purchase items for her upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Like most everyone these days, she was “absorbed in (her) own world of technology, looking down at (her) phone.”

“I didn’t even notice the two gentlemen standing in front of me until I heard an older mans voice in confusion declare, ‘Wait, what is happening? What are you doing?'”

She looked up from her phone just in time to see the sweet interaction between the two men. The older one was wearing a veteran baseball cap.

“Sir, I’m paying for your items because you paid by serving my country and I’m grateful for you,” the younger man said.

As Ruthann observed, “The older man was caught off guard with a loss for words, fumbling his gloves in his hands and trying desperately to hold in his emotion, as was I.”

The young man quickly scanned his credit card to pay for the items, thanked the older man, and left. When the cashier handed the veteran his items he asked her, “What do I do now?”

“You have a good day!” the cashier responded.

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“My heart welled as I watched our veteran readjust his Veteran ball cap, straighten up, and hold his head with pride as he walked out knowing someone was grateful for him.”

Ruthann concluded, “That 20 second interaction didn’t just change the veteran’s day – it changed my day, as well as that cashier’s – because that 20 seconds showed us by looking up and slowing down- life is pretty beautiful and surely we can find something to be grateful for.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith