In early 2016, Ishmael Gilbert, a Target employee in Indiana, did something that inspired us all: He treated an elderly customer with tenderness, care and patience.
Sarah Owen Bigler was in a hurry that day. With two kids in tow, she was trying to get in and out of the store quickly and return home. She was initially frustrated by the inconvenience of the woman in front of her paying for each item in change. However, she noticed that the cashier, Ishmael, was treating the customer very tenderly. Sarah also noted that her daughter, Eloise, was observing Ishmael’s behavior and learning a great lesson in courtesy and compassion. Sarah was so impressed with Ishmael’s treatment of the elderly customer that she snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.
Ishmael’s act of kindness went viral. The story was covered by the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail, Today and many other outlets. As Ishmael explains in a follow-up interview with SuperSoul.tv, he didn’t think he was doing anything special when he helped the elderly woman.
“I just treated her, really, like she was my grandma, to be honest,” Ishmael says. “She’s not the fastest. You know, I’m not going to huff and puff and make her feel even more frustrated. I just helped her out and actually seen a smile on her face. So, that was the best part about it.”
As the attention faded away, Ishmael continued doing his job as normal, which led a manager at a dialysis center to take notice of his patience and thoughtfulness. She was shopping in the store that day, saw Ishmael treating another customer with care and gave him her business card. Not long after, she offered him a job.
The 20-year-old father now works at Fresenius Medical Care as a patient care technician. The center is also paying for his education as he studies to become a registered nurse.
“It’s been going great,” Ishmael says about the new job. “When blessings come my way, I say sometimes it’s not always good to ask why. Sometimes, just take them as they come.”
For more inspiring shorts, tune in to SuperSoul Sunday, airing Sundays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET/PT on OWN. You can also catch full episodes for a limited time on SuperSoul.tv or watch them on demand on the Watch OWN app.