I stuffed the giant ginger molasses cookie into my mouth and hopped out of the car. I moseyed over to the parking machine and started to check every single pocket of my purse for some change. I could have used a credit card, of course, but I knew I had at least the $4 I needed in nickels, dimes, and quarters.
Him: Excuse me, you haven’t paid yet, have you?
Him: Don’t use that machine!
Me: Ohmigosh, is it broken?
Him: No. It’s just that I paid the $4 for parking and I’m on my way out. Take this pass. It’s good until 8pm tonight.
Him: Of course, it’s all yours.
Me: Thank you so very much. This may have just made my week.
And it had. My month, probably.
I mean, it was four dollars. It was money I was going to shell out in the coins I was going to find on my person or stuck to the bottom of my purse. It wasn’t about the money—it was about the gesture. It was so completely unnecessary. Most people, after leaving their appointment, would get into their car and drive away, maybe grab a coffee. Instead, this perfect stranger flagged me down, and handed over the pass. And I haven’t been able to stop smiling since. There is good in this world, there really is.
I walked out of my appointment in a bit of a haze. I had answered at least a thousand questions. I had at least a thousand of my own.
I had pages upon pages of literature about my newly-minted tree nut allergy. I had a brand-new epipen, complete with video instructions of what should happen in case of anaphylaxis. I had a list of nuts to avoid—almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts. I had a list of fruit to avoid—apples, cherries, peaches, pears. I had a list of animals to avoid—cats…and my dog. I had an arm full of itchy-as-hell welts.
I am now a statistic.
I will never again have pecan pie.
I will never again be able to eat in a restaurant without asking questions, without worry.
I will be a label reader.
I stuffed all my literature into my purse and hopped into my car. I grabbed my parking pass.
Me: Excuse me, you haven’t paid yet, have you?
Her: No…I’m just trying to find some change.
Me: Here, take my pass. It’s good until 8pm tonight.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: Of course! I’m just paying it forward. Someone did the same for me this morning.
Her: Thank you so much. THANK YOU. Truly.
And then I got into my car, drove off, grabbed a coffee, and paid for the person behind me in the drive-thru.
Because it was just that kind of a day, the Haley Joel Osment kind.
Anyone need twelve containers of wasabi & soy almonds?