“I’ll be right back, ” I said to the lady manning the UPS counter. I directed my daughter who was all but trying to climb the walls in the tiny office, out the glass doors and back into the parking lot.
We quickly walked back to the car, where I’d left my phone. I unlocked the car doors, placed Girlie in the back and grabbed my phone. My mind was racing; I needed that package. It contained the dress I was going to wear to my sister in law’s wedding the following week. I’d purposely come into the city, over an hour drive away from our home, early so I wouldn’t be racing around in the days prior to our trip. My to-do list was structured carefully, and of course, I hadn’t made any room for Murphy’s Law.
My bank card was not working in their debit machine. I’d just used it to fill up with gas, and grab a coffee, so I knew it wasn’t the card. The funds were there. I also knew that no matter how slowly I pushed it into the machine, it just kept coming up with an error as though my card was broken. So, I would just transfer the money to my other bank card, and we’d be finished.
Or so I thought.
My phone refused to load any of my apps. Once again, Murphy seemed to be taunting me. My phone had just worked fine, using the internal GPS to guide me to the UPS office so I could pick up the damn dress, and pay the stupid duty. Frustrated, I reset my phone, and tried again. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
What was I going to do? They didn’t take cash, and I couldn’t get either of my cards to work. It meant my drive into the city was mostly wasted. Frustration lined my body. It didn’t have to be this difficult. With the sun blaring on my face, I opened Girlie’s door, “Come on, we’re going to go try this again.”
We had to wait in line again. Girlie’s patience was wearing thin (as was mine), the air conditioning on much too high in the dank closet of a waiting room, my annoyance peaking as the counter attendant made her way through the line at a snail’s pace. Finally, it was our turn. Again.
“Let’s try my card once more.”
The error message returned.
“Your machine is broken,” I snapped, “I just used it somewhere else.” The woman didn’t respond.
“What can I do?”
“You can pay by cheque.”
“Who in the world carries cheques around?” I nearly exploded at her. She shrugged her shoulders.
“Can someone else come and pick up this package for me? I live an hour out of town. I just drove an hour to get it, your machine is broken, and I cannot get my package as a result. I need the dress for my sister in law’s wedding.”
“Can I have it back?”
Her eyes went wide, “Uh sure. I think I threw it out. Let me check the garbage.”
I sighed, as she hefted the tiny garbage can full of other yellow slips onto the counter, and began to pilfer through it’s contents.
Halfway through her search, a voice behind me spoke,
“How much is the duty?”
I whirled around to face a middle aged man.
“It’s just $13 and change. They won’t take cash, their machine won’t take my card, and I don’t carry cheques.”
“Yeah, who does?” he laughed, “You said you live out of town?”
I nodded, “Over an hour out. If she can find the slip, I’ll just send my husband in.”
We both peered at the lady who was still digging in the garbage for my slip.
“I’ll pay it for you.”
“I’ll pay the charges. It doesn’t make sense for you to have to make another trip because these guys have ridiculous policies on payments, and can’t afford to have a functioning debit machine.”
“You don’t have to do that.” I stammered, stunned.
“It’s only $13, I don’t mind.”
“Really,” he responded and moved toward the counter, “I’ll pay the duty,” he explained to the lady.
“Oh, I can’t let you do that,” the lady reponded, her hands still in the garbage can.
He laughed, “You aren’t serious? She lives out of town which you can clearly see on her package, your machine isn’t working, and you won’t take cash. So, I’ll pay.”
“Well, it’s just that it has to have her name on it….”
I rolled my eyes, “This is a joke. You know if someone pays with debit, you don’t have their name, right? I’m okay with him paying. I just want the package.”
Her eyes darted between me and this stranger, she sighed, and said, “Fine.”
The machine made the same error for this kind man, but unlike my card that has swipe protection built in, the swipe worked for him. The receipts printed off, and he handed me one.
“Here, keep this, just in case.”
The lady handed me my package after I signed some forms. With tears in my eyes, I turned to this kind man and said, “Thank you so much. You just saved me an extra trip. You didn’t have to be so kind. Thank you.”
“Of course. Enjoy your sister in law’s wedding!”
“I will. I will. Thank you! C’mon, Girlie, we’re finished here.”
As we made our way back onto the city roads, I let the kindness of this man fill my body. Sometimes, we forget that we live in a society with other people who are so kind. The sort of people who would just randomly pay the stupid duty on a stupid package because a stupid machine wasn’t working, and think nothing of it.
I want to be like that. I want to be the kind middle aged man who paid the duty of a perfect stranger, because it was helpful, and a nice thing to do. Because kindness really is everything.