The 12 items and under queue at your local supermarket is one of those streams in life that we all dip our toes in, and all sorts of interesting things float by.

A colleague renowned for his strong sense of right and wrong recently returned from a supermarket with one or two items and an earful of foul-mouthed abuse.

He had pointed out to a shopper, in a friendly manner, that she had substantially more than 12 items. She told him where to go.

He stayed right where he was and she left when a checkout operator backed up my colleague's observation.

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Yesterday, at Whangarei's Pak N Save, I experienced a most magnificent thing in the 12 and under queue.

A purchase that was also a lovely gift.

An elderly lady struggling with her Eftpos card had made several attempts to make it work. I felt a little sorry for the lady who was beginning to get flustered.

She apologised, and I reassured her it wasn't a problem.

Each time she entered her pin, I looked away to give her some privacy.

I'm not sure what was happening, but items were being refunded, and the pin number didn't work once or twice.

After a couple of minutes, the checkout operator handed something to the shopper and said: "Here, you can use this card."

Confused, the shopper asked whose it was.

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"It's mine," said the staff member, a young woman in her late teens or early 20s,

She smiled, told the shopper "It's OK" and punched her pin number in.

Accepted, the machine said.

The shopper hugged the staff member, said "thank you" and left.

I moved along the queue and punched in my pin number.

"What's your name?" I said. She told me. "My card's declined too," I said.

"What?" she exclaimed, before realising I was joking.

"What you did just then was really nice," I said.

She smiled and said "thanks".

She made the lady's day. And she made mine too. Thank you.