Even though life can beat you down until you have nothing left, there are a select few who do good to raise humanity to a higher plane.
Giving A Helping Hand
Ruth Reed is one such individual. Last summer, she was at a local convenience store when she saw a young man asking for money because he didn’t have enough money for groceries. Reed spotted him $5 without even realizing he was a famous singer. They say what comes around goes around, and you’ll see why…
“It looked like he was using a card and it didn’t go through, and then he asked a young lady for $5, and I thought this is it, so I said, ‘No, I’ll get it,'” recalled Ruth. But it wasn’t long before the retired schoolteacher realized that she was face to face with someone who looked familiar, which she mentioned to him. The truth came out eventually. Even though she eventually realized who it was, she couldn’t have known how things would pan out for her. Moreover, why didn’t he have the cash to pay?
The incident occurred at the Wawa location on Route 541 in Medford, New Jersey. When you take into account the fact that this all went down in a Wawa, it makes sense. Employees at the store are noted for being extremely helpful and nice, which likely rubs off on customers. The gas station and convenience store chain may be the only one in the world that actually has a cult following. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in most locations but that’s not what makes Wawa so special…
So it makes sense that someone decided to pay it forward, as Wawa’s are extra friendly places. In addition, you always seem to run into someone you know when you enter one of the stores. What Ruth felt when she looked at the singer was indeed a feeling of recognition, but from where? Could it be that this young man was an old student of hers? No, it couldn’t be that. All of a sudden, she realized who he looked like…
Are You Keith Urban?
Ruth Reed continued: “And he said, ‘What’s your name?'” After she introduced herself, he said, “Ruth, I’m Keith.” Indeed, she thought that the fine young gentleman looked just like Keith Urban, so she told him, “That’s who you look like, Keith Urban. Do people ever tell you that you look like Keith Urban?” To her surprise, he answered, “I am Keith Urban.” When he told her that, she couldn’t believe it! She needed a bit of convincing, to say the least…
A Rich Man
But what happened to Keith Urban, a supposedly successful musician, that he suddenly is strapped for cash? Indeed, it is estimated that he earned some $75 million dollars over his career. Even though we can’t expect a multi-millionaire to be walking around with all that cash, how does it make sense that he didn’t have enough money to buy groceries? For someone so rich and famous, why doesn’t he have people working for him to do that sort of mundane shopping for him?
As for Keith Urban, he was just thankful that someone was there to help him out when he was in a bind. In a world rife with pain and misery, this woman was doing her best to help out. Despite this, she was having a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that the famous Keith Urban was right in front of her. Soon she would realize that he was, indeed, standing right in front of her. But who is Keith Urban?
For those who are not country music fans, you still should have heard the name Keith Urban. He was born in New Zealand, though he grew up and lived in Australia for many years before moving to the U.S. He’s definitely one of the most famous stars of the genre, as he fills stadiums when he goes on tour all over the world. Despite how well-known he is, his face isn’t as recognizable as he thought, apparently…
A Shopping Enthusiast
As it turns out, Keith Urban loves to meander down the aisles at his local grocery store and choose the items himself. He clearly has enough money in the bank to afford someone to go and get him whatever he wants, but Urban says that he doesn’t like to do this because they get him the wrong things. To make sure he gets what he wants, he goes into convenient stores and supermarkets to select desired items by hand.
Happens To The Best Of Us
That fateful August day, Keith Urban was walking down the aisles like he always did. He picked out the goods he wanted to bring back home, as always. But something was different today: he didn’t have enough money in his pocket to pay for all of his groceries, as there was only $10. The last thing you’d expect of such a successful star is to not be able to pay for eggs and milk, but that’s exactly what happened!
So there Keith Urban was, waiting in line, when he suddenly realized he didn’t have enough cash on him to pay for the groceries. According to Ruth Reed, it looked like he was trying to use a card that didn’t work. Instead of placing some groceries back, he looked around and asked a younger lady if she had some spare cash to give him. It was at this point of the conversation that Ruth jumped in and offered to spot Urban some money for the groceries he wanted.
After paying for the country legend’s groceries, Ruth couldn’t believe that he was who he said he was. She thought that he was just another guy, down on his luck. How could it be that he, an extremely popular country singer, didn’t have enough money to get a few groceries? She asked him if he really was Keith Urban, how did it make any sense that he didn’t have enough money? He answered with the truth: he simply forgot all his cash at home and was strapped for the time being.
Ruth Reed admitted that she got a bit snippy with Keith Urban. She asked him: “Really? Really? Then where’s Nicole? And who was that woman you were here with?” Evidently, Reed is a big fan of Nicole Kidman and wasn’t too impressed that this man, if he was who he said he was, was out and about with another woman. Keith laughed and said that Kidman was actually waiting back at home for him to return. The other lady was his sister, actually, and Reed was welcome to ask her.
She was about to ask his sister because, as she reasoned, “I don’t think she would lie to some old lady.” It was at that moment that Reed realized there was a bodyguard there and that the young man was telling her the truth. No random Joe Shmoe just waltzes into convenience stores with a bodyguard. “And I just fell apart, fell apart and he was gracious,” Reed later said. She told Keith he should go back to Nicole Kidman waiting for him at home, but the singer wasn’t done just yet.
Kindness For Kindness
The two got to talking, and Keith discovered that Ruth actually picks up people’s tabs on the regular. In fact, she makes it a point to go out and pick up someone else’s tab once a week. This all started several years ago with a New Years resolution she came up with. “He really could have said, ‘Lady, get away from me,’ and he didn’t,” Ruth said. “He was very kind.” Yes, he was, Ruth, and it’s because you’re a wonderful human being!
It was at that point that the bodyguard beckoned Urban to get back into the car. He visibly started getting impatient, as it’s his job to safeguard the security of the country music star. We can understand that, but Keith was just left in awe at how wonderful it was that Ruth Reed had that weekly routine. As she told CBS, she and her husband “…decided when we saw military people we would treat them at Wawa or Dunkin’ Donuts or whatever.”
“One Of The Nicest Ladies In Medford”
Inspired by Reed, Keith Urban put $5 in the donation box at the Wawa and went outside with her for a photograph. The very least he could do to say thanks was to give her a photograph so she could show all her friends and family, proving she actually did meet him. As for the story, it actually went viral. One Facebook user even wrote, “Lucky you Keith Urban! You got to meet one of the nicest ladies in Medford!”
What Did She Get?
According to Ruth Reed, the best thing to come out of this encounter is spreading the idea of doing acts of kindness. Indeed, we believe stories such as these have the power to change the world. There’s just so much suffering and hardship in the world today that it’s easy to become despondent. All we really need is a helping hand from time to time to make things right and inspire us to pay it forward. But that’s not all she got…
However, Ruth Reed doesn’t think that she’s anything special. In fact, she admits that she pays for people because it helps her feel good. While trying to claim it’s motivated by selfishness, no one was really convinced. Everyone has the power to do good but few actually go out and make the world a better place. Little did she know how much of an impact she would have. Soon enough, a multi-national company stepped in to make a very enticing offer…
Year’s Supply Of Good Deeds
In return for helping Keith Urban, who she thought was a down-on-his-luck young man, Mastercard offered Ruthy a year’s supply of prepaid cards to bankroll her philanthropic endeavor. A family member of hers contacted them on Twitter so that they would know how to get the cards to her. In fact, when Keith Urban heard of what the company did, he said that he found out where she lived and that they “took care” of her (not in the Sopranos sense).
Even local news stations got wind of what happened. CBS filmed a short story and interviewed Reed about it — and soon enough, it seemed that everyone on TV was talking about it. Reed only agreed to do an interview on one condition: that they tell others about the importance of doing acts of kindness. To say thanks, Wawa even offered free coffee in honor of Ruth. They did this to thank her for all of the people that she’s helped over the years.
Since the incident, many people have come to admire Ruth Reed and how she chooses to help others in need. Social media exploded with praise for her. One Facebook user who was a student of hers even said, “Ruth was an amazing elementary school teacher in Medford for many years until she retired. Now she continues to give back to the schools by subbing and volunteering. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person!” Others recalled how she often stepped in to treat folks to coffee at Wawa.
Inspiring Works Of Art
In response to CBS’s report on the story, a singer-songwriter even wrote a song telling the story about what happened. We don’t know what Ruth Reed had going through her mind that morning after she got up, but we highly doubt she imagined the day’s events would inspire an original tune written by a trained musician! Wouldn’t it be cool if Keith Urban also wrote a song about how Ruth Reed helped him when he was short on cash?
Keith Urban Loves Wawa
Another Twitter user pointed out that she only loves Keith Urban more now that she knows that he loves Wawa, too. It seems that Urban found a new way to connect to a new fanbase. While he previously crossed over onto the pop charts after being considered strictly a country music star, his new fanbase is clearly all of those who love Wawa with a passion. Who knew that the Wawa faithful are an untapped source of fans?
Teachers Are Heroes
Another Twitter user pointed out that this is just part of what it means to be a teacher. Taking care of others, no matter what age, is something that is ingrained into a person after so many years working in this profession. Teachers are inspirations for all of us, and there are no better examples of good people we should be emulating. That being said, as both Ruth Reed and Hanna Hurley prove, even teachers make mistakes sometimes!
Everyone Wants To Talk To Her
After Ruth Reed and Keith Urban’s story broke, it seemed like every news agency around the world was trying to get her to speak to them. Radio stations asked her if she wanted to come on their show, but that wasn’t all. One of the requests to speak was actually for a radio show on the other side of the world, in Australia! Who knew that so many people from all over the world would be touched by such a heartwarming story.
Restoring Our Faith In Humanity
In summary of this extraordinary incident, Ruth Reed later said that “this was out of the blue. Being at the right place at the right time and too stupid to recognize Keith Urban when you see him. But we always tend to notice what people do wrong and we don’t notice the good.” She’s right about the last part, which is what makes this story so touching. What we need to spread is good news, not the bad.
Paying It Forward
But the best reward she got is doubtlessly knowing that other people are inspired to do nice things for one another. One Twitter user, Elena Z. Jinzo from San Fransisco, tweeted: “I chose to pay for an elderly woman’s dinner at Safeway when they were telling her they couldn’t take her check without a current photo ID. It felt great to help. Ruth Reed, you’re my hero!” It’s never a bad time to reach out and help someone you see is in need.
There are several reasons why Wawa is so special. It was actually one of the first convenience stores to revolutionize retail by introducing the self-checkout line. At Wawa, you find it easy to get in and out as quickly as possible. In addition, its food is remarkably good for a convenience store (we recommend the sizzli). Besides this, the fact that it only exists in a limited area means that people who live far away from Wawa locations miss them immensely and get a hoagie there first thing when they’re back in town.