Thank You Ma'am is a powerful short story written by Langston Hughes that tells the tale of a young boy, Roger, who attempts to steal the purse of an elderly woman, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. During the course of the story, Mrs. Jones shows the young boy an unexpected act of kindness that changes his life.
The story begins with Roger attempting to grab the purse of Mrs. Jones. As Mrs. Jones tries to grab back her purse, Roger trips and falls in front of her. Mrs. Jones does not scold or reprimand him, instead she asks him why he needs money. Once she learns that he needs money for a pair of blue suede shoes, she gives him the money from her purse and tells him to "go on and get his shoes". This unexpected act of kindness shocks Roger, who responds with a simple "Thank you, ma'am".
Mrs. Jones then takes Roger to her home and offers him dinner and lessons in life. She gives him wise advice on the importance of working hard and not taking shortcuts. She also reveals to him why she was so kind: "I been there," meaning she has experienced a similar situation before and knows what it is like to feel desperate and alone. She then goes on to encourage him to make something of himself in life and become somebody.
The story ends with Roger taking Mrs. Jones' advice to heart and vowing to never forget her kindness. He even agrees to name his first son "Luella", after her. This is a touching reminder of how a simple act of kindness can so dramatically change someone's life.
The lesson of Thank You Ma'am is one that can be applied to our lives today. We should all strive to be kinder to each other, for it can have profound effects that we may never know about. Whether it be a kind word or a helping hand, we should never underestimate the power of our actions on others.