The Mean Lady

It was early and wet but we were all excited as about eighty of us waited at the Max (public transit) station to head into downtown Portland for the Shamrock Run. Many people were wearing gaudy green costumes, green body paint, and goofy hats and jewelry. Most of us were from Vancouver and had to purchase a ticket to ride the train, the problem though was that the ticket machine is known for taking an extremely long time to purchase and print tickets! So of the 80-100 of us that were waiting for the Max most of us were in a long line that wasn’t moving.

Maybe it was the costumes or maybe it was the anticipation of a fun day with my wife and kids but I figured that the best way to get everyone on board the train would be for those at the ticket machine to just buy tickets for those behind them. Obviously it would be strange for me to approach a stranger and suggest that they buy another person’s ticket so instead I figured I’d walk up to the front of the line and ask if I could just purchase 30 tickets and we could hand them down the line. I thought it was a good idea, I felt kind of good about myself, and practically it was quite a useful thing…but here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, this might be weird but if you let me buy your ticket I’d love to get us all out of line and just buy 20 or 30 tickets to pass down the line.

Her: Excuse me? You’re going to have to wait in line with the rest of us buddy!

Me: Oh, no I’m not trying to cut in line. I’ll stay in my place in the back and won’t even take one of the 20 tickets. It’ll just get us all through the line faster and we can then jump on the train when it gets here.

Her: You are not buying my ticket and you should get back in line where you were.

The Guy in line behind her: Hey man don’t worry about it. On a day like today when the Max gets here we’ll just all jump on.

I’m not quite sure what the moral of the story is. I’ve got a couple of ideas.

  1. We American’s generally fall into two categories. We either live off of and crave charity or we refuse to receive any gifts because we’re not a “person in need” It’s either pride or poverty.
  2. We also tend to find greater joy in the act of giving than in a person receiving. The fun and joy and blessing for the giver is often still centered in his/her own selfish feelings rather than in the blessing that the recipient gets.

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