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Viral photo of 'patient' teen has a heart-warming backstory

PATIENT: Ishmael Gilbert serving an elderly customer in a Target store

A STORE employee in the US has been praised for his kindness and patience after he was captured serving a an elderly customer.

The photo of shop worker Ishmael Gilbert and the tale of his patient attendance to an elderly customer have gone viral online.

But Gilbert humbly says he was just doing his job when he helped the customer counts out pennies to pay for her purchase.

The 19-year-old cashier at US chain Target was on shift a few days after he started when an elderly woman arrived at his register with a trolley, The Mirror reported.

The tale of what happened next was shared on Facebook by young mum Sarah Bigler, 35, who was next in the queue at the shop in Glendale, Indiana.

She was shopping with her two children and had put her purchases on the conveyor belt.

In a rush, she explained what happened when she looked up and saw the elderly woman ahead of her: "She was paying for her items with change and wanted to purchase each separately.

"Part of me, the part that had a long day at work, the part of me who had a 1 1/2 year old having a melt down in the cart, the part that had set an unnecessary timeline for Target and getting home, was frustrated with this woman and the inconvenience she had placed on me," she admits.

"BUT then I watched the young employee with this woman. I watched him help her count her change, ever so tenderly taking it from her shaking hands. I listened to him repeatedly saying 'yes, mam' to her.

"When she asked if she had enough to buy a reusable bag, he told her she did and went two lines over to get one for her and then repackaged her items. Never once did this employee huff, gruff or roll his eyes. He was nothing but patient and kind."

Bigler was watching the cashier, she noticed that her daughter Eloise was too.

She said: "She was standing next to the woman, watching the employee count the change. I realised I hadn't been inconvenienced at all. That my daughter was instead witnessing kindness and patience and being taught this valuable lesson by a complete stranger; furthermore, I realised that I too needed a refresher on this lesson."

When the elderly customer was finished, the employee began scanning Bigler's items and thanked her for her patience.

She revealed: "I then thanked him for teaching us patience and kindness by his treatment of that elderly woman. And although my timeline for Target was askew, when he was finished I pushed my cart through the store trying to find the manager.

PRAISED: Ishmael-Gilbert

"I wanted her to know of the employee's kindness and patience, and how much it meant to me. After tracking her down and sharing the story with her, we left Target with a cart full of consumable items, but what is more a heart full of gratitude for such an invaluable lesson."

Bigler adds at the bottom of her post: "If you are ever in the Glendale Target, give Ishmael a smile and a nod. The world could use more people like him."

The post on Facebook has been shared more than 24,300 times, and people are thrilled at Gilbert's kindness.

For his part, the young dad-of-one couldn't quite believe the reaction.

"I was asleep at home and everyone was texting me, 'check Facebook, check Facebook,'" he told The Indianapolis Star.

He said that as he helped the older woman he saw her shaking, and that she was "all worked up" as the line behind her got longer.

He added: "It just feels good to be recognised for good work. But this isn't something new. I treat all customers the same, the way I want to be treated.

"It felt good because that’s the kind of example I want to be for my daughter," he added.

His proud mum, Amiee Smith Gilbert, 40, took to Facebook to praise her son.

"I looked at my son I was proud to be his mother and know that my hard work and effort was worth it. I felt very proud that this young father was being acknowledged for his outstanding customer service and positive energy in the workplace.

"I have always tried my best to raise my children to respect everyone no matter their race, age or gender.'

She also thanked Bigler for sharing her story.

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