The Art of Receiving

As I was reaching for my debit card at Molly Moon’s yesterday, the woman in line behind Etta and me tapped me on the shoulder. “I’d like to pay for your ice cream, if you don’t mind,” she said, smiling. She was maybe in her mid-30’s, with a young child in a stroller. I was startled. Why would she offer to pay for us? Did I look that down and out?

I’m used to being on the other end of this kind of interaction. It always feels good to be generous, to feel like I’m helping someone out. But receiving? Uncomfortable.

A younger version of me would’ve said thanks but no thanks. A younger version of me couldn’t let anyone in. A younger version of me didn’t need anything from anyone.

I saw Etta watching me expectantly. And I thought of what it feels like to offer—and be accepted or turned down. I took a breath. “That’s incredibly kind of you!” I exclaimed. “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’d love to,” she assured me. “Wow, you just totally made my day!” I told her gratefully. And I meant it.

etta and v eating ice cream
an ice cream adventure from last summer

Veronica Beck

Veronica Beck is a technical writer, blogger, and formerly reluctant parent.

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