Reparation by Kindness

Filling station and garage at Pie Town, New Mexico

Image via Wikipedia

After a flat tire on my car, I stopped at the nearest gas station and had the attendant patch my spare. When I said, “How much?” he waved me off. “It’s on the house,” he said.

“That’s very kind of you,” I said, “but why are you doing this for a stranger?”

“Well, yesterday I woke up with a toothache and I took it out on everyone in sight. This morning I feel fine. So today I’m making up for yesterday: favors for the customers, kind words for the help. That’s how I pay off for the bad days.”

As I drove off, I thought, “Now there’s a man who makes sense: he settles his personal accounts day by day.”

That is what learned people call “mental hygiene.” The tiny patch which the filling station attendant put on my tire saved me only a dollar. But it saved him a week’s worry about yesterday’s meanness.

Sydney Harris


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