Faith in Humanity Restored for $3.57

Every day has the potential for greatness and promise.  But despite our best efforts, some days are just not that good.  I don’t mean horrible days… when tragedy strikes, and loss and heartbreak devastate.  I’m talking about the days equivalent to the paper cuts of life.  Rock in the shoe, dust in the eye kind of days.

Your computer crashes and the data is lost.  Stuck in dead stopped traffic  No coffee left in the pot.  Small, but annoying realities.  Unfortunately these annoyances are like weeds and can quickly multiply, choking out the good things that normally occupy your mind. And when these “off” days show up, they seem to bring the dark side of humanity clearly into focus, obscuring the good.

The selfishness of others becomes more apparent.  We see the rude, the arrogant, and the condescending sides of people.  Momentum is powerful.  In short order, if not abated, your perspective on people can sour, the positives lost in a sea of negativity.  Hope and promise and perspective dissipate.

Yesterday was an“off” day for me.  More annoyance and frustration than goodness and hope.  And at the end of a very long day I found myself in a very long line so I could buy two birthday cards.  The mass of humanity in front of me had their shopping carts piled high.  The line moved glacially slow.

I made a desperate, ill-calculated move to another line only to find it slower than the first.  I could actually feel the seasons changing, my life ebbing away.  I considered tossing cash at the clerk behind the register and just walking out the door.  Instead, I impatiently waited… and waited.

I finally reached the cashier and put my money on the counter to pay for my two birthday cards.  She handed me back my money and said it was already taken care of.  The woman in line ahead of me had paid my way.  It was a small and simple gesture, but so very much appreciated.  In an instant, my faith in people was restored, perspective renewed… all for $3.57.

I was struck by the impact of so simple a gesture.  An unselfish act, with nothing expected in return.  It cost very little.   Took almost no time.  And yet the impact was immediate and real.  Sometimes we miss the opportunity to impact people because we want to do something big and significant.  We want to impact people in a profound way.  But the plans are so grand, they never come to fruition.

Forget the grand plan.  Take the $3.57 action.  It may be just enough to restore someone’s faith in humanity, remind her there is hope after all.

And to the kind woman who bought my birthday cards… thank you.  You made a difference.

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