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“I cannot tell you how much this meant”: supermarket cashier helps young girl through panic attack

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Anna Pollitt
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Supermarkets are rarely a relaxing experience and for one young girl who suffers panic attacks, they are a source of fear. That was until a checkout cashier’s selfless act of kindness turned a horrible, frightening visit into a “lovely” one.

Helen Martin explained in a thankful Facebook post to Sainsbury’s how her daughter is cautious about visiting her local store in Cannock, in the West Midlands, since a loud fire alarm test prompted her to have a panic attack there two years ago.



The event traumatised Martin’s daughter so much she has only recently been able to bring herself to go inside the store – and even then only after the family checks with staff that there are no alarms scheduled.

However, on Sunday the pair were in there doing some last-minute shopping when the store lights began to dim, triggering a panicked response in Martin’s daughter. 

Martin explained her daughter’s reaction to the cashier serving them and rather than a smile or sympathetic nod, the employee went above and beyond to comfort the distressed child.



“I explained the problem and how the lights dimming had caused her to panic and she was just so lovely,” Martin wrote in a post to Sainsbury’s. “She came around the checkout and asked my daughter to help her scan the shopping, coaxed her into her seat whilst we dried her tears and completely distracted her by letting her scan all the food.”

“I cannot tell you how much this meant to me and my daughter,” Martin said. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion that she managed to turn such a negative experience into such a lovely one.”

Martin said her daughter left the store “smiling” and posted a picture of her with the kind cashier:

Helen’s post in full:

Every since my daughter was little she has suffered with anxiety/panic attacks triggered by alarms/loud noises or in large environments where she is not comfortable like airports and supermarkets.

A few years ago she was in Sainsburys when they did a fire alarm test and it completely traumatised her. It took 2 years to get her to go back into sainsburys and even now we have to ask if there are any schedule alarms before she will venture around the store.

Today we went and did a bit of last minute shopping and as we were at the checkout they dimmed the lights to indicate the store was closing soon. Immediately she started panicking as she thought an alarm was about to go off she wanted to run and got extremely upset.

The lady working at the checkout could see something was wrong as I was trying to comfort her to allow me enough time to pay for the shopping. I explained the problem and how the lights dimming had caused her to panic and she was just so lovely.

She came around the checkout and asked my daughter to help her scan the shopping, coaxed her into her seat whilst we dried her tears and completely distracted her by letting her scan all the food.

I cannot tell you how much this meant to me and my daughter. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion that she managed to turn such a negative experience into such a lovely one. My Daughter actually left smiling and was so proud of herself. ?

I was in such a tizz I never even asked the lady's name. I thanked her but I will be going back tomorrow to ensure she gets the recognition and thanks she deserves. To me she is a Star ?? (Cannock Sainsburys)

A Sainsbury’s employee responded to Martin’s post to say that her comments had been forward to supermarket managers “so the colleague can be recognised.”

For more information on panic attacks and managing anxiety, visit Mind.org, nopanic.org and the NHS.

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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