Thankful for Trouble

Early Saturday morning, I strolled listlessly through the aisles of Target, carefully checking my written list as I went. In the back of the store, there was a display overflowing with games, many of them familiar from my childhood. I glanced over as I passed. Sorry. Yahtzee. Chutes and Ladders. Wait…Trouble!? Oh. I’d loved Trouble! I picked up the box and looked fondly at that curved plastic center dome peeking through the center of the cardboard. I could still remember the feel of pushing it down and the click-popping sound it made as it rolled the die within. That would be a great game for indoor recess, I thought. I looked around in vain for a price tag. Well, I’ll just ask when I check out, I decided. If it’s less than $10, I’ll buy it.

When I got up front, there was only one cashier working. I settled into line with my few items, already beginning to feel the sharp stress nibbles of unfinished grading and incomplete report cards. Soon, a woman, masked as I was, got into line behind me.

“Wow, only one line open,” she commented, “but at least it’s not too busy.

We commiserated and chatted about this and that–the weird state of the world, how many people weren’t masked, Covid, etc.

“I have cancer,” she commented, “but I really wear my mask to protect others. I do love our governor, but I wish she’d mandate masks.”

I noted the dark circles under her eyes, her pallor and her thin frame. My heart squeezed a bit. Trying to manage a grave illness and navigate this Covid-altered world must be incredibly stressful.

The line moved forward and I started to unload my cart onto the belt.

“Oh, that’s a fun game!” she said, pointing at Trouble.

“I know!” I replied. “I remember loving this game as a kid. I’m a teacher and I thought my students would, too. I’m not sure how much it is though, so I haven’t decided if I’m getting it or not.”

We talked a bit about schools and how they’ve been managing these days, until finally, it was my turn at the register.

“How much is this?” I asked the cashier, holding up the game.

She scanned it. “Thirteen forty-nine.”

I hesitated, remembering my $10 mental limit, designed to stop me from overspending on my classroom.

“Never mind,” I said firmly. “I’m not going to get it.”

She tucked the rejected game under the counter and began to ring up my other purchases. A few minutes later, I paid and gathered up my bags. As I turned to leave, I heard the woman behind me say, “Oh, I’ll take that,” and saw her point to the Trouble game.

Then she turned to me, “Could you wait just a minute?” She quickly slid her card through the machine, then grabbed the game from the cashier and handed it to me.

“I’d like you to have it,” she said, “For your classroom. For the children.”

“Oh,” I stammered, “Wait. What? Oh. You don’t need to do that.”

“I want to,” she smiled, pushing the game into my hands.

I held onto it tightly, stumbling over my words. “But that’s so kind of you! Wow! The kids will love it. Thank you so much! “

“No,” she replied, “Thank you for all you’re doing.”

I thanked her again, and tears burning in my eyes, turned away, deeply touched by the kindess of a stranger.

23 thoughts on “Thankful for Trouble

  1. margaretsmn says:

    We almost wrote the same slice, but I didn’t meet my kindness angel. I love that there is still so much of it in the world. And I want to hug the woman who gifted you. I have a t-shirt that says, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patty McLaughlin says:

    Oh, Molly! I just love that this happened. Trouble is my daughter’s favorite game(almost 32 years old) and we still play it when she comes home! Thinking of you as you navigate this busy time of year. Hang in there, girl ❤️ Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jackie says:

    Lovely! This game is receives a shout-out in the song “Butter” by bts, “Pop like Trouble . . . ” So adorable! Thanks for sharing this incredible connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindaroo42 says:

    Thank you sharing this, just like you, my eyes got glossy with tears. We need more of this. What an unbelievably kind thing for that woman to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kd0602 says:

    Oh wow—I could feel the tears well up as I read this piece. Teaching has been so hard lately—but not nearly as hard as cancer. This sweetness touched my heart. Little gestures really matter. Thanks for sharing this slice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maryleehahn says:

    Well now I’m crying, too. Between your slice and Margaret’s, my faith in the world is restored a notch or two. And I’m going to keep my eyes open for an opportunity to be part of this grand solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tears in my eyes. What a great story! It is a prelude to my blog tomorrow about Monday night’s power outage in our neighborhood. I am sending this on to Hannah and two teachers I know. Thanks. PS And good for you letting her give you this gift! It made her day and week!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lainie Levin says:

    That sound you hear. It’s the sound of me heart swelling, just a bit. What a beautiful reminder that there are amazing people in this world, considerate folks who go out of their way to make people feel good. I’ll also call it a nudge to remember that mindset in my own life. Thank you for this. =))

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this — and for the kindness of the lady in line. I wish you both the very best.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Cathy Clark says:

    You are one of the most precious humans. Thank god for you

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] week I wrote about the kindness of a stranger at Target (here). This past Friday I received in the mail a note from friends who also follow my blog. They wrote […]


  12. Janet F. says:

    I am crying reading this, Molly. Thank God for kind people in this world. How wonderful and it made her feel so good to do this. I don’t remember Trouble but you make me want to go to get one now!! So glad you told this story. We need all the good we can now.


  13. gailaldousmsncom says:

    Molly, what a sweet and kind lady to gift your students and you the game Trouble. I’m sure it made her feel just as good to give to your students and you as it felt good to you and your students to receive her generosity. Kindness matters. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story that you wrote with so many details, I felt like I was right there with you. My sister and I loved playing Trouble. My husband and I loved playing it with our girls, too.


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