I was helping one customer about an hour before our library closed, when I had another interrupt and ask if she could pay for her print jobs with a credit card, which she had in her hand. I regretfully responded no. She was a little upset and said, “I just sent a ton of stuff to the printer.”

Before I could offer her any other options, the first woman interrupted. She had two dollars in her hand, ready to pay for her own copies. “How many?”


“How many pages?” And threw her two dollar bills on the counter in front of the other woman.

“Only twelve pages. I don’t need that much.”

“Okay.” Takes back a dollar and digs in her purse to pull out a quarter, which she dropped onto the counter.

“You don’t need to do that.”

“I know.”

“I can just go get some cash.”

“Now you don’t have to.”

They were both sounding a little short, kind of gruff. The first was a Hispanic mother, tired looking, clearly ready for winter break to be over. The second was older but fighting time hard, long brassy red hair, motorcycle boots, long sleeved Harley Davidson henley. Neither looked like the customer base most people think frequents my library; they weren’t bored retirees, Stepford wives, or soccer moms driving $40,000 SUVs.

They just stood there looking at each other for a minute. It was an odd silent battle over offering and accepting help. I was, for once, a silent spectator. The redhead finally picked the money up off of the counter. She still had her card in her hand and when she put it back in her wallet, she pulled out another. It was a Target gift card. She handed it to the other woman.

“Here. It’s still got a $12 balance on it.”

“You don’t need to give me that.”

“I know.”

They finally smiled.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you. I kind of needed to know that there are still good people out there that’ll help you without expecting anything.”

I sniffed loudly. They both looked at me.

“Now you’ve done it. I’m all verklempt. I can’t do my job like this. Get out of here. Both of you.”

They laughed.

“Seriously, thank you. I needed that, too. I’m getting off desk now before someone yells at me and harshes my mellow.”

Ironically, the first call I answered when I got to the back room was someone who yelled at me, but she couldn’t bring me down. I wasn’t going to let her.

My wishes for you:

May you never need a reminder that there are good people out there.

May you be someone’s reminder that there are good people out there.

That simple.