I went out for a quick lunch during an all-day conference today. Upon walking out of the restaurant, I noticed that the light drizzle had turned into full-on pouring rain. I ran into a “Traveler’s Store” two doors down and asked if they had any umbrella. “No, sorry, we are all sold out,” said the clerk. I ran into a book store next; they were all sold out as well. So did the clothing store and the grocery store. Apparently, nobody had an umbrella to sell in this side of town.
Next came a small shoe repair shop, and I thought to myself, “I might as well go in and see if the shoe repair shop sells umbrellas!” The shoe repair shop keeper said with amusement that yes indeed, he had one umbrella left!
“Great, thanks so much! I’ll take it. How much is it?” I nearly shrieked with relief.
“That will be three dollars,” he replied.
What a steal!
I looked into my bag, and saw with a panic that I only had two dollars in cash. As you know, Chinese New Year had just passed, so I had given my daughter my one twenty dollar bill for her CNY red envelope. I stood there in my nice conference clothes and nice black leather business bag but no three dollars in my hand. “humm…can I charge it?” I asked the shoe repair shop keeper, now feeling a lot stupid and less relieved than a moment ago.
“You want to charge THREE DOLLARS?” asked the shop keeper incredulously.
I looked into my wallet. “I only have two dollars, oh wait, I have three quarters here!” The shop keeper smiled and said, “that’s alright.”
“Wait, I found another nickle. Woa, wait, and I have a dime!” I digged out the loose change from my purse, and held out a total of $2.90 in my hand. “That’s alright, that’s alright,” he said kindly and took the two dollars and three quarters. He handed me the one and only umbrella that hasn’t been sold in this side of town, and smiled warmly at me.
“Thank you thank you thank you!” I walked out of the shop feeling dry, warm and protected. Protected from the cynicism, greed, anger, disatifsaction and whatever negativity of this world. There are really nice people out there, who are honest and kind and generous; who are not out to make extra money from you in a moment of desperation.
I looked around me then back at the store, and somehow half expected it to disappear save for a glow of light as evidence of Buddha or angel or some sort of magical being as testiment to holiday miracles. Nope, the elderly shop keeper was still sitting there by the window, smiling and waving at me.
I smiled back. There are some really nice people out there in this world.