If you ask Carol Flynn about how her recent act of kindness went viral, she’ll laugh and brush it off.
“Oh shoot, this is the darnedest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” the 73-year-old retiree from Sioux Falls, SD tells Ellen’s Good News. “In my mind, it’s all out of proportion with the other things going on the world.”
Maybe, but it’s also become a moment of inspiration for everyone who hears about it. Following a recent dinner outing, Flynn decided to stop at a local Walmart on her way home to pick up containers and kitty litter. When she reached the register, she noticed the line for check-out was unusually long, and being held up by a young woman buying diapers.
“I went on my way, found something else, came back and the line was empty except for her,” Flynn recalls. "She was still standing at that cashier. I’m not bashful, so I walked up to see what the situation was, and asked if there was something I could do.”
As it turned out, the woman thought the diapers were on sale but they weren't, and she could only afford one of the four packages she’d selected. The young mom had a four-month-old baby at home, and while she didn’t want to bring Flynn into the situation, Flynn volunteered to pay for all of them, a total amounting to $120.
“I said, 'I think you need the rest of them,' and I reached over and got the other three and put them in her cart,” Flynn says. “'We’ll just call it a pay it forward,' I said. 'Someday, I am assured you can do the same thing. I’m able to do it and I’d like to.'”
Flynn then paid for her own items and went on her way. Little did she know the whole interaction was caught on video by a guy behind her in the checkout line. Since then, the story was picked up by local news stations, as well as national new outlets like ABC World News. Currently, Flynn and her son are on their way to tape a segment with Fox in New York.
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Meanwhile, the generous woman is just coming to terms with what the term "viral" means.
“I’m 73, I’m pretty much up on things, but I had to question what it all meant,” she laughs.
Though Flynn feels the incident may be getting more attention than necessary, she also recognizes the need for positive and inspiring stories.
“As you get older, you mellow out a bit, and sometimes we see things we might have missed before,” says Flynn, a former state director for the March of Dimes. “I felt that she was a young lady in distress and that maybe she just even needed an arm around her shoulder. I’m not afraid to talk to people. If I could make her feel better, that’s what I was after.”
Flynn adds, “Everybody needs an uplift every now and then. People just like to be known that they’re alive. Smile at them, compliment them, give them a pat on the back if they’ve done something. I think we all need to do more of that to get along and help each other out and believe in each other.”