Is he a Good Samaritan? A guardian angel? Or simply a Brainerd man who wanted to spread a little Christmas cheer over the holidays?
No matter what people are calling him, the man who snuck up behind unsuspecting elderly women and paid for their groceries at a Brainerd grocery store during Christmas taught a valuable lesson in humanity to those who experienced his generous gift and those who witnessed it.
The man stood behind Ruby Vickerman at the checkout counter at County Market in Brainerd on Dec. 23.
He waited until she was distracted before he made his move, sneaking his candy bar into her pile of groceries and paying for the entire bill. He then quickly left the store with his candy bar, but not before he wished her a "Merry Christmas" as he brushed past her in the checkout aisle.
As she began writing her check, she discovered the man had paid for her $28 worth of groceries, leaving her absolutely stunned and bewildered.
It was a random act of kindness that played over and over again at County Market on Dec. 23-24. The man would choose an elderly woman, stand behind her in the checkout aisle carrying only one item, add it to her groceries when she wasn't looking and pay for it all with cash and then quietly leave with his small purchase before she noticed.
Often, the cashier didn't even know the man wasn't with the woman and was as stunned as his intended "victim."
Store manager Bob Heldt said he knows the man did this as least four times in his store.
"He was very smooth," said Heldt. "One woman almost had a heart attack. She thought he accidentally paid for her $60 worth of groceries. I convinced her that I'd take her name and phone number in case the man came back. By the time I got back to my office with her number, the man did it again to another woman."
Dan Vickerman said his wife Ruby was in shock when the cashier told her the man had paid for her groceries. By that time, all of the cashiers recognized the man since he had been in the store earlier, and they all watched in excitement as he secretly paid for Ruby's groceries.
"It was really a nice thing to do," said her husband, who was also in the store but not in the checkout lane. "It makes you want to do something nice for somebody else. I wish I could afford to do it myself. Ruby didn't even get the chance to thank him."
Store employee Danyette Meyer was working when the man once again returned to the store. Curious, she attempted to follow him to find out who he was.
But the man vanished mysteriously within the busy store.
"Whoever you are, you made a nice Christmas for those you helped," said Heldt. "It's nice to know there are still Good Samaritans out there."
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