A long time ago, I learned the meaning of trust and integrity.
Oddly enough, it was over a donut. An éclair, to be precise.
I was about 12 or so and we’d just moved to a place called Waianae, which at the time, was kind of the Compton of Hawai’i. Worse still, home life wasn’t exactly roses and sunflowers and I was an awkward, fucked up kid. We’ll leave that right there for now. Suffice it to say, life wasn’t great.
My younger sister went to the elementary and I used to walk with her from the bus stop. On the way to the house there was a bakery and if I had money on me, I’d grab us both something to snack on. I didn’t always have money and she was 8 so she never had any. But that doesn’t matter, older sibling always pays. Just like the eldest at the table pays when its sibs and/or family. It’s what you do.
It wasn’t often and certainly we couldn’t have been considered regulars but one day we’d picked a couple of things out and I was a quarter or thirty-five cents short. There were two women behind the counter…one said which donut do you want to put back? I was about to tell her to put the eclair back because… you know, younger sister but then…
The other one said; bring it tomorrow.
They argued about it right in front of me. First lady was of the opinion they’d never see us again. Second lady said; Sometimes you have to have faith in people. You have to trust.
I wasn’t a good kid. Hell, I wasn’t a good person. I wasn’t even a viable human being but in that moment, I was going to be fucking damned if I proved that first woman right. So I returned the next day with the coins and said thank you.
Second woman said thank you and you’re welcome then turned to the first and said; See?
It was a small step toward being human for me. I’d lost my rudders a few years before. Both of my grandfathers who I only saw periodically but whom I depended on so much passed away within a year of one another and then the dog I’d had since birth died of cancer. Life after those events were just so much hell and they wouldn’t get better until I was nearly in my mid-twenties.
But in that moment, someone I didn’t know was proud of me.
And I’ve carried that moment ever since.
It helps shape me. It helps me remember who I need to be in the darkest of times. It helps me remember who I should be when there is a fork in the road when I can choose my path.
Not to say I’m brilliant and fantastic and saintly. God hell no. There are plenty of times when I just say fuck it, let someone else light the goddamned candle. But I try. That’s all I can do is try.
That’s all any of us can do.
So in this holiday season—and beyond as well—be the kid who returns with the quarter… or be the woman who says bring it tomorrow. Have faith. Use good judgment but have faith.
Or restore it. I think that’s the greatest gift you can give to someone who’s placed their trust in you.