A Great Deal: Paying $1 for a Bag of Rice and Getting $10 Back

The ragged old lady came in every day to buy a bag of rice. (Image: via  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
The ragged old lady came in every day to buy a bag of rice. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

My parents run a small convenience store to make a living. The store sells tobacco, alcohol, and other daily items. During the summer months, I often helped my dad to manage the store. One day, I got up early and rode my bicycle from home to the store at 8 a.m. I saw a ragged old lady with a wrinkled face carrying a small bag of rice. After paying for it, my dad handed her US$10 as change.

“Hey, Dad, how come the old lady bought such a small amount of rice?”

My father responded with a disconcerted face: “She has no money, so she buys only one pound of rice.”

I shouted at my father in surprise: “Dad! Have you made a mistake? She bought one pound of rice, and you gave her 10 dollars as change. How much did she give you?”

I rode my bicycle to the store every day that summer to help my dad open the store. (Image via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

I rode my bicycle to the store every day that summer to help my dad open the store. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

“She gave me 1 dollar. She is an old neighbor along this street. She has no children and collects garbage for a living. Over the past two years, she seems to have acquired dementia. I watched her and thought I should help her. She’s used 1 dollar to buy rice in my store every day for the last two years, and I give her 10 dollars back. Otherwise, how is she going to live?”

I listened quietly, and I suddenly found my father showing me his wisdom.

The old lady came again the next day.

She rubbed her hands, took a dollar from her pocket, and handed the money to my father with a big smile. “Boss, a pound of rice.”

“Okay!” I grabbed the dollar from my father’s hand and put it into the drawer. Then I pulled out a plastic bag and put in a whole bucket full of rice. I tied it up and said: “Grandma, a pound of rice!”

The old lady took the rice and it felt heavy. She looked up at me with her innocent eyes.

“Oh, I forgot to give you the change.” I smacked my head and quickly took out 10 dollars from the drawer. “Grandma, here you are!”

The old lady took the money and placed it in her pocket, then trembling, walked away.

“Kid, you learn fast!” My father tapped on my skull, “You had at least 5 pounds of rice in her bag!”

“I am trying to do a good deed, done well!” I felt fulfilled at this moment, and my face felt warm and happy. “Dad, I have learned it from you! I will also try to be a good person!”


Helping someone in need made me feel warm and happy. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Over the next few days, I followed my father to the store. Every day I opened the store door, and it didn’t take long for the old lady to come. She still took out 1 dollar to buy a pound of rice, and I still handed her 10 dollars as change. We both seemed happy.

A month later, the old lady didn’t show up for a few days. I asked: “Dad, how come the old lady has not come by?”

He replied: “I heard that she is sick in the hospital.”

A few days later, the director of the neighborhood committee visited. He handed an envelope to my father. When my father opened it, he saw a real estate certificate and a will. It said:

“Boss Zeng, I suddenly woke up at the final moment of my life in the hospital and thought of you and your son. Without the care from both of you, I could not have lived this long. Thank you!

I am dying and have no regrets. I only wish that I could repay you for your kindness. I have nothing except the old house I have lived in for decades, so I hope you will accept it!

Thank you very much. I’ll send you my best wishes from heaven!”

Translated by Yi Ming

Edited by Derek Padula

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