There are many forms of honor, one of which I was privileged to experience recently.
I frequently post items to sell on KSL, the Utah specific version of Craig's list. Not that long ago, a gentleman from another town asked me if I would be interesting in trading – would I want his, in exchange for mine. What he had was actually something I wanted and had been looking for – it was rare and for me a gift, so I was all in. I must have been somewhat distracted though, because I didn't really pay attention to his location; I thought he lived along a freeway that I travel frequently, so I agreed, thinking it would be a relatively easy switch.
When I actually looked, I realized I had no idea where his town was and we would need to do this via the U.S. Mail. Hmmmmm. Now it feels risky. I only had an e-mail address and a name. These items were valued at about $115 – this made it kind of difficult to fling mine into the postal abyss.
Ten years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated. But in the ensuing decade, I have, unfortunately become more cynical. I don't know if this stems from spending too much time reading the news, or too many interactions with humans who seem to have no sense of decency and respect. But I have to be honest, I genuinely wavered. I thought about how to make this work – we both send the items on the same day, insured, and trackable? But still, what if I do and he doesn't? And, shouldn't he be feeling just as nervous? Honestly, it wasn't even the monetary value that I was struggling with … it was "Can I afford to lose every bit of faith in humanity if this guy rips me off?"
Yet, if you don't risk anything, you gain nothing.
On the day I was planning to take the package to the post office, I received a padded envelope from him. When I opened it, there it was, in good condition, and also a ten and a five dollar bill. He said, "I wanted to get this off to you, but I included some cash, because yours is new and mine is just slightly used; I couldn't feel good about the exchange otherwise."
I keep marveling at this.
He didn't need to do that. I didn't ask him to make up the difference. I didn't ask him to send his package first. Somehow he trusted me, without ever meeting me or talking to me, other than a few e-mails lobbed across cyberspace. It's not about the money. It's more that this guy seems to view the world as a welcoming place and he just wants to be part of that Rainbow-After-the-Rain, Sunrise, Dew-on-the-Grass, PuppyDog-Tail-Waggin', 'Life is Good' feeling.
I feel like I have experienced a moment of honor. And I am awed by it. And I'm looking for a way to Pay it Forward.