You’ve seen it happen.
A couple buys the young parents at the table across from them dinner. The boss invites the young protege to lunch, pays and doesn’t even mention work once. That person on the metro who got the last seat let’s someone carrying bags take it. It happens all around us. But it’s never for us. There are no “random acts of raises” in your department. It’s piñata day at work and everyone manages to get a gift card or something while you’re stuck with a scratch off ticket and a sweaty tootsie roll. You don’t win anything. But the guy next to you scores $50 dollars. Someone tries to be nice by giving you their free burger pass for the cafeteria but you just discovered chia seeds and have pledge to never eat red meat again. (We’ll see how long that lasts.)
But you want to be a nice person despite this.
Pay-It-Forward still guilts you into doing that one nice thing that maybe you don’t really feel like doing but you do it anyway and then you think about it later and feel like a good person for a moment.
And then one day, you’re just scrolling through Twitter, rubbing your feet on this really soft carpet waiting for your SO to finish gelling their hair or whatever they do when suddenly, it happens. You might not realize it at first. It’s a bit cryptic. Crouching tiger, hidden dragon shit. She or he will come over to you and ask you if you need something to drink. You say no thank you. They ask you if you like cream soda, you say yes and move on with your life. That’s the end of the conversation. The next time you come over they have some waiting for you–just for you. You give them that look. What did I do? It’s like you’ve been living in the jungle fighting off wild beasts your whole life and someone just rescued you, took you home and gave you apple cinnamon Chobani. You would probably think they just poisoned you because nothing can be this delicious, fat-free and not evil so you throw it at the wall.
The point is, sometimes you run across a kind soul who just genuinely wants to help you. Identify these people and treat them well. Take their help. I don’t mean take advantage. Save that for sleazy car salesmen. Don’t try to put up this force field of pride. Everyone can use some help, especially when it’s from people who know things that you don’t. And return the favor when you can. Not just by being nice to them but helping others where you can.
Nice people freak me out at times. Some days I see them as this weird sub-species but I am thankful for them.