You can't beat a person on a bad day...
I lost my job recently, after a long time with the company, a few short months after almost every person I could use as an employer reference was fired and dropped off the face of the earth - I'm the jerk who stuck with the company after they were fired, or the guy to low on the food chain to have ever had their "real" cellphone number or email rather than the company-issued ones. I've spent the last two weeks driving back and forth to the hospital to see my 92 year old grandfather who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on his birthday and given 6 weeks to live, only to have a stroke later that night leaving him unable to communicate but completely aware of what goes on around him.
These days I can't find much of a reason to get out of bed, let alone crack a smile. I've sent out resumes and applications, had a few interviews, but it doesn't seem like there's much hope. It wouldn't be 'fiscally responsible' of me to go out and play paintball, and I'm the only one who can be at the hospital every day, so that's become a fairly crappy routine for me and it's a pretty dark one.
Lately I've been selling a lot of "extra" toys and parts of toys that I've got hanging around, just to have a little extra scratch and something to do that isn't so bleak and depressing. I don't get unemployment, and the accountant in me is keeping a running estimate of the date that I'll need to cancel the cable, the day I'll need to start selling the few markers I really love, the week I'll have to sell off long-term investments (the market has been good, but not that good), the month that it makes more sense to raid retirement accounts and eat the huge penalties, etc. None of those things is as far off as I'd like them to be.
Anyway the last couple days I sold a few things and dealt with some really cool people. One guy covered the PayPal fees out of the blue and left a note saying so with the payment, and another guy told me to keep the difference when when I told him his package shipped for about half as much as it was estimated to cost (which was pretty damn high) because, he said, most people wouldn't tell you when that happened. It might not seem like much, maybe even common courtesy, but to me I guess that just really hit home. You never know what sort of a difference a few bucks will make in someones day, or week, or whole life. I'm not talking about just the money, or just the thought, or politeness, honesty, lack of greed - maybe I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm an idiot for caring.
I guess for whatever reason it was gratifying to not feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick, which hasn't happened much lately. Or because it was an example of tact, class and generosity that isn't demonstrated much these days, and maybe never has been. Maybe it was just an example of fellowship in a really cool community that rarely lets me down. Again - I don't know for sure, I can place the root of the feeling, and the emotion itself, but everything in between is sort of a big questionmark. All I can say is this, stupid little things can mean a lot to people, and most of the time they just don't say it.