Today I'm going to share with you something that happened to me a couple of years ago. This is just a simple story, but it has great significance in my eyes.
Before I started college, I had a variety of odd jobs, the last of which was working as a cashier in a supermarket. It wasn't easy, especially in the first few days. Hours were long, breaks were short, customers were rude – and on top of all that, at the end of my third day at work, I have found out that there's a considerable sum of money missing.
I said I'm going to cover it from my salary, of course, and the incident was settled. But I felt so humiliated! This might sound out of proportion to you, I know, but back then I was very young and insecure. I felt like a total failure. I started walking slowly towards the bus station, my eyes clouded with tears.
There were few moments in my life when I felt more helpless than at that moment, when I sat motionlessly on a bench. Buses came and went, but I just couldn't bring myself to get up.
And then the woman appeared. She had short dark hair and warm brown eyes, and looked like someone who is probably very cheerful and has a very large family. She was carrying a shopping bag and was obviously in a hurry; but when she saw me, she stopped walking.
- Excuse me, are you alright? – She asked.
- I'm fine, thank you, - I said, hoping my voice wasn't trembling too much.
- Are you sure? – She insisted, - Do you need money for a bus ticket?
Only then I realized I must have looked like a drunken beggar. My hair was a mess and my eyes were probably red and puffy.
- No, no, really, I'm fine, - I said quickly. – I have a ticket; I can go home anytime… I just… had some problems at work.
She looked at me very kindly and said:
- You look like such a wonderful person. Don't let anyone put you down.
Then she insisted I must have one of the fresh bagels she just bought. I refused at first, but she just wouldn't take no for an answer. She said I look exhausted and need to eat something. She gave me one of her bagels, said goodbye and walked away. I ate the bagel, and it wasn't simply delicious; I felt as though it was a magic bagel – with every bite, the pain and humiliation were slowly disappearing, until I felt almost normal again; I got on a bus and went home.
This happened over three years ago, but every once in a while, I remember the woman who gave me her bagel and the simple beauty of what she did never ceases to fill me with gratitude. She was in a hurry, but she didn't just pass by. And she wouldn't leave me alone when I said I don't need anything. She refused to walk away without giving me at least some comfort. Whenever I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. I hope that someday, as I work on making myself a better person, I can develop even a bit of that woman's kindness and generosity.