Reuniting two unlikely friends from a Southwest Florida Publix

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Fiona and Gilnet
Fiona and Gilnet Credit: Rachel Smith, @snowinginsaturn on TikTok

A little girl and a Publix worker have a special bond. A video from inside a Southwest Florida grocery store is going viral on social media.

That little girl first met that Publix employee when she was a toddler, and he has watched her grow up ever since. The two reunited for the first time since the pandemic and reveals how these two unlikely best friends were brought together.

A TikTok video captured the hearts of more than a million people across the world.

Most little kids run into Publix excited for the free cookies. But, that’s not the case for 6-year-old Fiona.

You can see her as she looks for her friend Gilnet, or as she knows him, “high-five.” And, whenever she sees him, they hug.

And if you fast forward to Tuesday, it has been two years since Fiona’s mom captured a special moment on her phone. Gilnet was moved from a Fort Myers Publix to one in Cape Coral when the pandemic hit.

“Do you remember me?” Gilnet asked. “Yeah, oh my, I miss you!” Fiona said.

“Do you even know how many a million is?” “No.”

Gilnet said, “Every day, she looking for me I say ‘high five Fiona’ ‘high five for Gilnet’ ‘high five for grandma’ I so happy.”

Rachel Smith is Fiona’s mom. “It’s just been a long-standing tradition for my folks and I to go to Publix together,” said Smith.

“We’d show up to Publix and the lines for the produce section and just ‘high five, where’s high five?'” Smith said.

Fiona’s mom is a social media analyst, so she decided to do an experiment. She posted the two-year-old video on TikTok.

“She is my best friend,” Gilnet said.

“Because I love him,” said Fiona.

This experiment proved that love and kindness are timeless. But, it turned this unlikely pair into best friends. Gilnet bought her a bike and, as you can see in the video, she gave him thank you card.

“It doesn’t matter your political affiliation. It doesn’t matter your religion, your age, none of that matter. The grand equalizer is that people just love kindness,” said Smith.

“I’m Haitian people, and they’re American people. Everything together, God is good. God loves everybody!” said Gilnet.

So, of course, they had to end with a high-five.

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