A Woolworths shopper who sustained a life-threatening illness that left her wheelchair bound has praised the kindness of one of the store's staff.
Stephenie Rodriguez, who was adjusting to life in a wheelchair after contracting cerebral malaria in Nigeria two years ago, said she was approached by a Woolworths employee, Tanya, who offered to push her trolley.
“Initially last July when I was figuring out how to get on with my life independently, I did need help and for her to offer me help was just a lovely gesture,” Ms Rodriguez told Yahoo News Australia.
As Tanya pushed the trolley, the pair chatted about Ms Rodriguez’s near-death experience that left her in a coma for two weeks, the many surgeries that followed and her life as a single mum.
From wheelchair to walking into Woolworths
After the encounter, Ms Rodriguez had a handful of “polite exchanges” with Tanya across the aisles, until this Monday… On Monday Ms Rodriguez walked into Double Bay Woolworths.
She had regained the ability to walk again after undergoing bilateral amputations of both feet – much to Tanya’s amazement.
“I arrived, walking, with a mask and sunglasses. I said ‘Howdy Tanya’ and she couldn’t place me,” Ms Rodriguez wrote to Facebook.
“I raised my sunglasses and said ‘It’s me, Steph, in the wheelchair…?’”
“She was speechless. She literally started crying and no one else knew what that whole exchange was about, but she and I, because of that exchange when she shopped with me back in July of last year,” Ms Rodriguez told Yahoo News Australia.
"Then, Tanya said: 'I never knew you were so tall’ then, ‘It's a miracle. Look at you, walking. I can’t believe it!'”
She repeated the last part several times, before saying: “I’d hug you if I could.”
Woolworths shopper describes ‘butterfly effect’
It wasn’t until Ms Rodriguez reached the self checkout that Tanya raced up to her with a bouquet of flowers, telling her that the amazing news had “made her day”.
Ms Rodriguez said that she was really moved by this gesture of kindness from Tanya and one that she will not soon forget.
“It’s like the butterfly effect, you know? Like, when we give off good vibes or bad vibes that affect other people, which is why I think Tanya’s reaction was so strong,” said Ms Rodriguez.
She said that although her journey was traumatic, it was also transformational because “one of silver linings to all of this is that I have been on the receiving end of extraordinary kindness.”
“People did amazingly kind things that I would have never been able to appreciate on the receiving end if I had not been through this journey,” said Ms Rodriguez.
"I think one of the amazing outcomes is to be able to see how really kind people are."
Woolworths customer praises staffer’s ‘beautiful act’ at checkout
This isn’t the first time Woolworths staffers have gone above and beyond for their customers.
Recently, a Ballarat shopper praised the “beautiful act of kindness” of one of their staff.
The compassionate employee offered her condolences and gave her a box of Cadbury Favourites chocolates when she learned of the woman’s beloved German shepherd passing away.
She was so touched by the kind-hearted gesture of the Woolworths staffer that she cried upon returning to her car.
“I cried so much in my car. A beautiful act of kindness from your staff,” she wrote to Facebook.
Police officers' touching act for homeless man outside Woolworths
It’s not just Woolworths staff who are making headlines for their “touching” acts of compassion for others.
A pair of Melbourne police officers were filmed by popular blogger Adele Barbaro selflessly grocery shopping for a homeless man they happened upon outside the supermarket.
Rather than asking the man to move on they proceeded to shop for grocery essentials, such as bread, milk, rice and a roast chicken.
"As they went outside, I overhead them check again that he had somewhere to stay tonight and then they handed him the bag of food with respect, compassion and kindness," Ms Barbaro wrote in a post to Instagram.
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