Operation Nice

Operation NICE - Apparently there's some internet club that encourages people to post stories about people who are NICE to them. Today I washed my car because I'm taking a work-related VIP to the airport which reminded me of a story from the first year I lived in Sac. A NICE story! When Arnold and I first moved to Sac, we had no money, no jobs, very little savings and on top of that Arnold was not legally allowed to work (we were waiting for his paperwork to go through). I was quite stressful. Also, we didn't have a car, which is pretty much a necessity in Sac. The first NICE part of the story is that my friend JR gave us his car. Yes, you read that right. His parents had given him their car and he gave us his. He even drove us to AAA to change the title. It was so kind and generous, sometimes I still get a little choked up remembering how much his generosity meant to us, but actually that's not the story I remembered.

Although JR is super NICE, his one downfall might be that he is a bit slobby, so the car was a mess. Partly this was not JR's fault as the car was quite old, but, seriously it was NOT good-looking inside. The interior roof of the car was literally held up by push-pins. Then of course there were cracks/rips in the leather and plastic etc. Despite the cosmetic problems, the car was awesome! It accelerated super-fast and cornered (if I may borrow from Pretty Woman) like it was on rails. It was the first car I ever owned and I was so psyched to be able to drive anywhere.

The first week of my first real job, I was asked to drive someone to the airport. (Obviously no one could have imagined what the inside of my car looked like). I was so young and not experienced that it didn't occur to me how embarrassing it would be to chauffeur someone in that car... until we got in. Now, I am not the kind of person who really cares a lot about impressing other people with fancy cars etc., but at work I always try to maintain the veneer of professionalism, which is hard to do when thumbtacks are falling out of the roof of your car and onto your guests head. I was really embarrassed and apologized profusely while explaining him my whole story, broke-no-money, awesome friend rescued us with this awesome, but maybe not so pristine condition car... on and on I'm going. I'm talking way too fast and my humiliation is really obvious.

The guy turned to me and said "You know what, don't worry about it. Money is not what matters most in life." Obviously, we all know that money isn't important, that appearances are not important, the hard part is that even if they aren't important to you, they matter to other people which is why I was cringing as thumbtacks rained down on his head on the way to the airport. I assumed he was trying to be nice but I was wincing in pain imagining that inside he was secretly like "I can't believe they're taking me to the airport in THIS!'

But then he told me his wife had cancer and that they had recently sold their custom-built dream house on the ocean to pay for her medical treatment. He told me how they had saved their whole lives for the house and had moved in right before her diagnosis. "Now we live in an apartment in what my kids call "the ghetto"" but not for a moment do I think about any of that as a sacrifice. I am so grateful to have my wife next to me everyday." It was really one of the moments out of the blue where you connect to a stranger unexpectedly. In that short little ride, that man's sincerity and honesty helped me to be thankful for everything and everyone that I have, even when it's not up to the standards of the people around you. Every once in a while I remember how lucky I was to have met him, to have friends like JR and to really know that I am blessed... even when it doesn't show on the outside.

Posted on September 18, 2008 and filed under Nothing to Do with Anything.