A woman picking up vegetables in the grocery store

From strangers in the grocery store to friends and colleagues at AFRY

23/08/2021

Have you ever seen someone struggle with the payment in the grocery store? Would you help them out and pay, or stay quiet in the line?

A cold evening in September, Sara Tuomaala, Assignment Leader Commercial Kitchen at AFRY, drove to the grocery store, just before the store was closing. She collected her groceries in a hurry and went to the checkout to pay. Then she realised: she had forgotten both her wallet and her phone. She was tired and felt ashamed that she had to leave the story empty-handed, without tomorrow’s breakfast.

Further back in the line, also waiting to pay, stood Atieh Khaleghi, Consultant at BAIT Future Technologies at AFRY, and her husband Babak. They saw the woman in front of them discussing with the cashier. Atieh had just arrived in Sweden and didn’t speak the language, but judging from the gestures and tone of voice, she knew something wasn’t quite right. She and Babak understood that Sara seemed to have a problem with the payment. Suddenly, they saw the woman in front of them leave the store – without her groceries. 

"Hi, I can’t speak Swedish, but how can I help you?" Atieh asked. 

Atieh and Sara
Atieh Khaleghi and Sara Tuomaala

Sara was surprised, but looked at Atieh and explained what happened. Without hesitation, Atieh and Babak offered to pay for Sara’s groceries, telling her she could transfer money when she got home. 

"No worries, I have been in the same situation many times in my home country Iran" said Atieh.

Sara drove home and felt very grateful for the help she got from the kind woman at the store. She had never experienced such generosity from somebody that wasn’t family or a friend. Sara paid for the groceries, and decided to invite Atieh and Babak to a Swedish dinner a few days later.

From friends to colleagues

Atieh and Sara kept in touch, and after a year and a half, Atieh was about to finish her master studies. Sara realised there must be a section at AFRY that is in need of Atieh’s competence within machine learning. She made a quick search on the intranet and found an AI section in Gothenburg that would be the perfect fit for Atieh. Sara gave her the name of the section manager, and not long after that, Atieh signed a contract with AFRY.

We are happy that both Atieh and Sara are a part of AFRY, and that we have such helpful, brave and kind colleagues. Small acts of kindness can lead not only to saving someone’s day, but also to new career opportunities, a sense of belonging and, maybe most importantly, a beautiful friendship.

Thank you, Atieh and Sara, for sharing your story and for being true team players!

Are you or someone you know interested in joining AFRY? 

AFRY is a European leader in engineering, design, and advisory services, with a global reach. We are 16,000 devoted experts within infrastructure, industry, energy and digitalisation, creating sustainable solutions for generations to come. 

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AFRY coworkers eating lunch at the office