When you work in retail, you have an opportunity to experience both the best of humanity and the worst.
Nick DeClemente has seen a lot in his years working for Publix supermarket in Jacksonville, Florida, but a recent interaction with a customer touched his heart in a very personal way. Nick, whose wife is currently expecting their second child, was working behind the bakery counter one day when a lady approached and asked him an unusual question.
In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Nick wrote:
A lady just came up to the bakery counter and asked if we had any 1st birthday cakes on order for Saturday or Sunday. She said she wanted to pay for one. I asked what the customer name was thinking she was paying for a specific person. She said no I want to pay for one anonymous. She then started to tear up and tell me that she had a stillborn [grand]child a year ago and in tribute to him she wanted to pay for someone else’s cake.
Confused but moved by her selfless act, Nick went to the cake order drawer and selected a receipt. The woman gratefully accepted it and thanked him for letting her pay tribute to her stillborn grandson. After she walked away, Nick was left with a feeling of profound emotion.
It was probably one of the most touching things I’ve seen in all my years working in retail. I hope that this lady finds peace through this tribute and that the customer receiving this gift will, if nothing else, pay it forward.
Hundreds of people commented on Nick’s post, but one particular comment stands out. It turns out that the lady’s name is Vanessa Phillips, and she happened to see Nick’s viral post and shared a very happy update.
Vanessa’s son and daughter-in-law just recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl!
Nick says that now that it’s all said and done, he’s so happy that he decided to share the story publicly.
“I wanted to share it because of just how good it was, how heartbreaking, but also so deeply heartfelt,” he said, adding, “If you read the comments on the post you can see that this action touched a lot of people, some people are offering strength, some offering prayers, and some are telling their own personal stories.”
Vanessa’s actions in the Publix remind us that those we lose are never forgotten in the hearts of those who love them.