The Goodness In Others: My Happy Ending

Anybody who knows me would undoubtedly agree that I am generally a cynical person.

As a kid, I never learned to swim because in lessons, I never trusted my instructors. People I didn’t know well frequently told me to smile, and I didn’t trust them either. To me, people were risky and not worthy of trust until they proved themselves otherwise.

This cynicism intensified in college after a rough breakup, and then three summers in retail. The third summer was essentially the same as the first, until my poor, cynical heart opened, just a little bit.

During that summer, like in all the movies, I, a cynic, fell for a nice guy who wanted to show me the world. But in those movies, there is always a happy ending, with a love story and a lesson learned. I had my love story, but little did I know, I had yet to learn the lesson.

As far as I knew, I had let my walls down as far as they would go. Maybe most people were bad, but I had found one of the very few that had proven himself to be different.

Like most lessons, mine came on the day I least expected it. On this day, I was in a hurry. The time I had to spend with my nice guy was soon coming to a close for a little while, and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. That day, doing so meant putting enough gas in my car to get to him.

I was frustrated when the pump refused to take my card. As it requested, I went inside. The cashier was a friend of mine, and neither she nor I could figure out how to get the machine to take my money so I could be on my way. Dejectedly, I made my way into the cold to try my luck with the ATM. No luck with that either. At this point, I was confused and scared- how long would my prison sentence be for not paying for the gas??

Like rest for the weary or a sight for sore eyes, the cashier joined me outside, visibly excited.

“THAT NICE MAN INSIDE HEARD WHAT WE WERE SAYING AND PAID FOR YOUR GAS!”

The rush of feelings nearly made me fall to my knees. I was ecstatic- that kind act made my life momentarily much easier. I was embarrassed- I didn’t want to seem like a charity case. Above all, I was stunned. This generous stranger didn’t know me from a hole in the ground. I probably had not even made eye contact with him, and I couldn’t pick him from a crowd of two. He knew he would likely never see me again, but just wanted to help.

It occurred to me then that the world is a better place than I had thought. Yes, unfortunately, these are dark times and in many ways, the world is in bad shape. In many other ways, however, the world is a beautiful place with countless hidden treasures. I began to think about the little things people do to show kindness every day. Drivers who make it easier for other drivers to merge onto the highway by moving over, or at least slowing down. My roommate voluntarily washing my dishes during our freshman year when I had Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. People who shovel the entire sidewalk when it snows. My boyfriend’s brother for sitting in the backseat of his own vehicle when my boyfriend drove, so I could sit up front. People can surprise you in the best ways, and the world can be a more blissful place, if you choose to admire the little things. I learned a lesson, and got the rest of my happy ending. On that day, the sun shone a little brighter, and my smile grew a little bigger.