Maybe we should assume the best

Yankees and Southern folks differ. I have lived on the West Coast, in Chicago, the Midwest, and in Asheville for the last four years—where I’ve been frustrated with the accent and the odd food combinations. What the heck is grit? Why would you boil a peanut and fry a pickle?

There are good things [and] bad anywhere you live. Folks in San Francisco were too aloof; Chicagoans too sports-oriented for my taste. I don’t even want to start in about the Midwest. [But] I have enjoyed meeting people in the places I’ve lived. However, there is something very special about the South that was recently confirmed by Good Samaritans.

I was working in Knoxville and stopped in at a local Kroger’s to pick up a pie, paying at the “you scan,” where I thought I left my wallet. When I went back, it was gone. I was angry with myself and whoever had stolen it. Where was the humanity and honesty?

I spent the next several hours filing a police report, canceling cards etc. I headed [home] and stopped in at the Department of Motor Vehicles in West Asheville. I took a deep and humbling breath and literally just sat down next to a woman I didn’t know, and asked her if she could lend me $10 so I could get a new license. She didn’t hesitate (well, maybe a second) before handing it over, along with her name and address. Yes, I sent her a check that evening. That was Good Samaritan No. 1.

Exactly one week later, I got a call from my health-insurance company telling me someone found my wallet and contacted them to get my number! Apparently, my wallet was in the middle of the street near the University in Knoxville, and Good Samaritan No.  2 picked it up while on his motorcycle! I told him to use the money in it to send it back to me, and I received it a few weeks later.

I am ashamed to admit that my first inclination was to assume that someone had stolen my wallet, when in reality, I was given something that can’t be bought: optimism that there is still good in this world, and we should all “pay it forward” if given the chance.

— Stacey Sparks


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