Picture the scene: you get to the front of a Walmart checkout, shopping cart full of a week’s groceries. But before you pay, a mysterious person approaches and pays for the entire lot themselves. The surprises don’t end there, though: you later find out that you were actually in the presence of a celebrity. And not just any star, either – a best-selling singer, to be precise.
That’s what happened to the shoppers at one Walmart, who found themselves visited by a generous stranger. Nor was it just any shopping day, either – it happened on Thanksgiving, one of the busiest holidays for stores. And we don’t need to tell you just how hectic that can be given its proximity to Black Friday.
Indeed, while Walmart stores are renowned for their high customer counts, that’s never been more true than during holidays. Actually, its chaotic Black Fridays have been so intense they’ve gained national media coverage. With this in mind, Thanksgiving is a veritable nightmare for shoppers, albeit a necessary one for some.
So you can imagine how stressful it is to go out into the Thanksgiving crowds for those holiday essentials. However, for the shoppers of one Walmart in Palm Springs, California, that tension was lifted with a surprise visit. Yes, while they were waiting in line with baskets and carts full of food, a mysterious person made their entrance.
Now, the visitor in question went by the name of Cici, and she was a very generous person by all accounts. So much, in fact, that she approached Walmart customers in November 2019 while they stood at the checkout. And Cici surprised them by paying for their entire shopping cart, but she didn’t stop there.
No, after her initial gift, she went around the Walmart store offering to pay for other peoples’ grocery bills, too. Those present were overjoyed at receiving such a holiday gift. But how could a person afford to do such a lovely thing for complete strangers? Well, Cici did have an explanation.
You see, Cici recounted a story that explained her seemingly boundless resources. She informed Walmart patrons that she was the lucky recipient of a lottery win and had decided to spread the love. Nevertheless, for some there was something about Cici they couldn’t quite put their finger on, further deepening the mystery.
Naturally, though, people were thrilled with their own good fortune at meeting Cici, and even more so with her generosity. Indeed, one Walmart customer even bought her some flowers to say thank you. An onlooker filmed the whole encounter and subsequently uploaded it to social media.
That person was Adri Buckles, who watched as a grateful recipient of Cici’s generosity approached, bouquet in hand. For Cici’s part, the footage reveals she’s touched by the heartfelt gesture, and graciously accepts. Afterwards, the women hug and the mysterious Cici goes to another checkout with her credit card.
The card reader beeps to let her know the transaction’s ready, and with a cheerful “Da-daaaa,” Cici resumes her goodwill. The video captures her asking, “Who’s next?” and she walks off in search of more transactions to pay for. The video has over one and a half million views and 70,000 likes thus far.
Alongside showing Cici’s goodwill on camera, Buckles added a comment celebrating the woman’s kind nature. You see, she was also a recipient of the mysterious good Samaritan’s selfless gesture. “Thank you so much,” Buckles elaborated on Twitter on November 28, 2019. “The heart and beautiful soul you have for paying for everyone!!”
What’s more, the mysterious Cici didn’t appear to be paying for groceries to get attention, as those present attested to. “I kept thanking her ‘cause she was buying customers baskets full of items,” another social media user wrote. “And she did not once ask for any recognition. Bless her heart.”
Furthermore, one guy related his own experience with the woman calling herself Cici on Twitter. He recounted how the woman was “at Walmart in Palm Springs paying everyone’s groceries for Thanksgiving.” He continued, “That’s amazing! She’s an amazing human being!” Needless to say, the event exploded on social media.
Even people responding to the reports were blown away by the gift that Walmart patrons had received. “Oh my God, this woman is the kindest person in the world,” someone posted to Buckles’ tweet. “Never heard of her until now,” another person wrote. “Now THAT is one ultra-classy lady and no mistake.”
Strikingly, Walmart’s own Twitter account also got involved by posting, “What an awesome Thanksgiving surprise!” However, it turned out that Cici’s Walmart appearance wasn’t her only retail destination that day. You see, many others claimed to have had a similar encounter. And apparently, Cici was at the T.J. Maxx store in Palm Springs just prior to her Walmart visit.
Yes, a woman on Twitter recognized the lottery winner story and revealed she’d witnessed a similar scene. “I’m crying because she bought me stuff at T.J. Maxx and a whole bunch of other people,” she wrote. “And then went to Walmart to buy more people stuff? What a f***ing ANGEL!”
And she wasn’t the only person who had a mysterious benefactor during her visit to T.J. Maxx. Others corroborated the woman’s claim, as well as Cici’s efforts to do something nice while avoiding the limelight. “[She] paid for my items at T.J. Maxx yesterday,” another woman said of Cici.
In response to the tweet, someone asked the woman if the store was busy that day. However, she responded by saying it was actually quite the opposite. Indeed, Cici tried to remain as incognito as possible. “Not really a lot of people,” she stated. “She [Cici] wasn’t making a big scene or anything at the check stand.”
Indeed, the happy benefactor of Cici’s kindness described her as “such a sweet person to talk to.” Even so, many people found something a bit off about Cici’s story. If the response on social media is anything to go by, some even thought the generous stranger seemed somewhat familiar.
For example, another Thanksgiving shopper wrote, “Went to T.J. Maxx today and this nice lady decided to pay for everyone’s stuff because she ‘won the lottery.’” But alongside others, they soon learnt that there was more to “Cici” than met the eye. So what did she look like, we hear you ask?
Well, the unassuming Cici wore black trousers, a shin-length gray jacket and had her blonde hair tied up in a bun. So far, so regular, right? It turns out “Cici” was not only using a fake name, but her story about winning the lottery wasn’t entirely accurate, either.
In fact, just knowing what “Cici” looks like might not be enough to ascertain her true identity. You see, the alleged lottery winner was actually a celebrity famous for disguising herself. However, the aforementioned Buckles, who made the Walmart video, was herself a fan. And she recognized her mysterious benefactor, later revealing all in her Twitter post.
Now, Buckles apologized for outing “Cici” as a celebrity in her tweet, though claimed that she did so for good reason. “I’m sorry for telling everyone once I realized who you were,” Buckles wrote, “but this kindness must be acknowledged!” The resulting reaction online demonstrated how well “Cici” had kept herself unrecognizable.
“Soo this is what she looks like,” one person said in response to Buckles’ tweet. Another said, “One of the few who could pull it off since nobody actually knows what she looks like.” A third jokingly added, “She has EYES?!” A T.J. Maxx shopper who met “Cici” also expressed her surprise.
“I didn’t recognize her,” the shopper said, “and I blame the fact that she hid under that wig for so long.” In case you haven’t already guessed, Cici’s real identity was none other than singer-songwriter Sia. The enigmatic artist is renowned for her ostentatious face-covering wigs and headgear.
That has been the case with Sia – who’s full name is Sia Kate Isobelle Furler – since her fame escalated in 2014. Up until then, the multi-talented artist had only experienced minimal success with three released albums. They were OnlySee, Healing is Difficult and Colour the Small One. That would all change in time.
Yes, Sia’s breakthrough came with her sixth album 1000 Forms of Fear, featuring the successful song, Chandelier. Since then, the humble singer embraced her tendency to shy away from fame by adopting her iconic face-covering disguises. The most well-known of these accessories is, of course, Sia’s long face-obscuring wig.
Now, perhaps people expected Sia to have some kind of unwanted distinguishing or unflattering facial features. However, as her public appearance as “Cici” proved, that’s certainly not the case. Nevertheless, the 2013 photos of the singer concealing her face with a paper bag did little to end such rumors.
However, Sia has spoken openly about the reasons why she covers her face. The singer says it allows her privacy at a time when many celebrities are comfortable exposing the most personal aspects of their life. Or, as she told The Guardian in 2016, when some female artists are uploading “pictures of their trip to the gynaecologist.”
Sia continued, “It was about not having to deal with the unfairness of being a pop star. Not having to worry about camera angles catching your double chin. Everybody in the entertainment industry is insecure. We have been tap-dancing our entire lives for your approval and you won’t meet anybody who is in the entertainment industry who isn’t a bit f***ed in the head.”
“That’s how we got here,” Sia elaborated on the subject of celebrity. “So if you can imagine a room full of us, it’s pretty hilarious. It’s exhausting.” Therefore, a disguise appears to allow the singer to live a relatively normal life as a “part-time popstar.”
Furthermore, the Australian told her personal friend Ellen Degeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that her privacy affords her freedom. “Well it’s just so that I can go to Target and buy a hose if I want to,” she revealed to Degeneres. Indeed, Sia enjoys being able to live like a normal person.
“Or if I find I’m in need of a restroom,” the singer continued, “I can go in the side of the road. No one would be following me with a camera trying to get a shot.” It’s obvious that Sia isn’t a big fan of the fame game, and for good reason.
As she went on to explain, you can trace this unusual viewpoint back to her past regarding a subject she’s always been open about. Yes, on a 2016 episode of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke she revealed more. “I was a singer for ten or 11 years to mediocre success,” she told Corden.
And she continued, “I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I sobered up and I decided I didn’t want to be an artist any more, because I was starting to get a little famous and it was destabilising in some way.” This led her to think outside the box for a unique way to deal with her rising fame.
“So I thought: what doesn’t exist in pop music at the moment?,” the singer/songwriter said. “And it was mystery. There are pictures on Instagram of everyone at the dentist.” Thus her decision to wear concealing wigs and headgear was the result of this thought process. And over time, it’s become one of her defining traits.
Her other recognizable characteristic is her selfless and kind nature. It’s apparently this that gave rise to her “Cici” persona, and the driving force behind Sia’s Thanksgiving gifts. Model and actress Maddie Ziegler is just one of the people who sang Sia’s praises when people asked about the enigmatic woman.
“She’s gorgeous, and it’s not just on the outside, but on the inside too,” Ziegler told the Insider website. “She’s literally the sweetest person ever.” After her generous actions, it seems the general public agree with Ziegler. You see, social media was buzzing with compliments for Sia.
“I think Sia needs her own talk show honestly,” one fan tweeted in response to Buckles. “Where she does all these kind things, I think people need to see more genuine kindness for some inspiration. We need more positive role models.” And judging by other fan reactions, many people agreed with the sentiment.
“I love that she did this not for recognition of showing kindness, but just actually being a kind person,” another Twitter user said of her Thanksgiving actions. “She didn’t want people to know who she was, or why she was doing it.” Now that’s a good way to spread positivity.