Humanity: In This I believe

Damaris - Belle Chasse, Louisiana
Entered on June 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Recently I was at the Post Office, as I frequently am on a Saturday morning, mailing my brother Robert 2 small packages for his upcoming birthday. The lady behind the counter asked if I knew I could mail a large flat-rate box, of which Belle Chasse P O didn’t carry, but I could order online & save money. I did not, I told her, so we laughed & I told her it was no big deal, as it was worth whatever I had to pay.

I had already filled out the customs forms but she wanted me to fill out a TO/FROM label for each box in case the customs forms became torn. I paid for the shipping which was $31.85 & moved to the left of the counter to fill in the TO/FROM information.

The man in line behind me finished his transaction & was leaving about the time I finished with the labels. He was a middle aged man with a moustache, dark hair, & cobalt blue cover-alls on. He asked “Where is he?” “Tikrit,” I said, “Well, he travels a lot, but that’s where I send his packages.”

He said “This is for the packages” & he place one twenty & one ten dollar bill on the counter as he quickly walked past me to open the door to the lobby. I grabbed it & said “NO NO NO. You don’t have to do that” as he kept walking & said again “It’s for the boxes.”

I was stunned. I turned to the wall & put my hand over my mouth because I knew what was coming: I’m always ugly when I cry & I was about to break all previous records of ugliness. I was finally able move & I walked quickly to my car, all the while wiping massive tears that streamed down my face.

From the corner of my eyes I saw the man leave in his jeep. I sat in my car & sobbed. Then I began to wail. Loudly & uncontrollably. . I did this for about 5 minutes then decided I needed to finish my other errand. I cried all the way to the store, stopped long enough to make my purchase, got back in my car & began wailing again for 2 hours.

I relayed the story to my best friend & she said “You’re crying because it was pure. Someone might have done something like that for him & he’s paying it forward. The only thing more pure would be a baby.”

I began to think why would a complete stranger pay for my postage? I think he might have been retired military, who can say? All I know is it has restored my faith in HUMANITY, in the inherent goodness of people. & I know when I see him again I will give him a bear hug & hopefully not cry.

And I will pay it forward.