Laura Myer and her husband are lifelong Westporters. Her husband’s family has been here seemingly forever — they were potato and onion farmers in the 1800s.
Seven years ago he retired — reluctantly — from the Westport Fire Department. He’d been diagnosed with malignant ocular melanoma, and had his eye removed to help prevent the spread of cancer.
A few days ago, the Myers learned that the cancer has metastasized. Surgery would be necessary — Christmas week — to help rid him of the tumors.
Just hours after learning of the planned surgery, Laura was at Trader Joe’s. Christmas music — cheery and uplifting to most people — jingled from the speakers.
Quietly, Laura wept.
“I tried to maintain composure,” she says. “But these songs that form our life soundtrack began to italicize what was impending.” She thought of Christmases past — and wondered, would there be a Christmas future together with the love of her life?
With great effort she pulled herself together, and joined the checkout line.
He packed her last bag. Then he handed her a bouquet of flowers. “These are for you,” he said simply.
“You cannot imagine how a small, unexpected act of kindness from a stranger can affect you until it happens,” Laura says.
“He did not ask me what was wrong. But I found myself blurting out, ‘My husband has cancer.'”
He asked for her husband’s name, and promised to offer a prayer. Laura thanked him, walked out, got into her car, and sobbed.
Customer service, Laura says, is related to corporate culture. She’s always found folks at Trader Joe’s to be cheerful and helpful — genuinely, not just for show.
“This gentleman was not a friend, not a relative, not an eminent physician,” she says.
“But he gave me a very special moment of hope when I had none. That is nothing less than extraordinary.
“And yes. I found most everything I needed that day at Trader Joe’s.”