In the short time I have been working as a grocery clerk, I have had my fair share of unusual circumstances: insufficient funds, weird purchases, strange confessions, and unexpected reunions, though nothing measures up to the one I am about to relate. It was late Saturday afternoon, and I was manning the express till when a young well-dressed man with a young girl, likely his daughter, turned up with an order of food for their supper. In the course of ringing it through, I learned that he was a financial advisor for a major bank. Things got awkward very quickly after that because, try as he might, neither his credit or debit cards seemed to work, even after multiple tries. He then desperately checked his wallet only to discover that he was ten dollars short of covering the bill. He turned to me grimly with the suggestion that he wanted to put the order on hold while he went out to the ATM to get the requisite money to make the purchase. Minutes later he returned requesting that I recover the order and knock off some of the items so that he could pay for it by cash. If that was all there was to the story, there would be nothing extraordinary about it. It was what happened during his ten minute absence that really rattled me.The next customer stepped up and offered to pay for the man’s purchases, total being $44.50. While I quickly thanked her for making this compassionate offer, I diplomatically discouraged her, saying that the man had gone out to seek funds do deal with the shortfall and might not appreciate her generosity. After insisting that I might not appreciate such a generous gesture myself, the wannabe benefactor agreed that maybe her offer, while heartfelt, was not practical. In retrospect, there is a part of me that wanted to resolve this very sticky situation by taking a risk and doing something I had never done before. But then another part wanted to see this individual step up and deal with the matter himself, which he ultimately did with a modicum of self-effacement. Then there is the matter of the male ego and the fact that he was a financial planner daily tendering advice to clients on the virtues of saving and investing. Now, if he was a pauper in desperate need of food, I might have encouraged such beneficence. Besides, I didn’t want to set such a dangerous precedent based on questionable need.