Valentine's Surprise

Vijay Manuel
Character Council Chair
I was rushing around on my way home to pick up sushi for my family and flowers for my wife on Valentine's Day.  I got to the flower shop after work and there was a massive line up of men... all of us last-minute shoppers.  As I waited in line with my flowers, I saw a familiar face and said hello to 'Ian', a 23-ish year-old young man who I recognized from Summer School a number of years ago.  I had been his Vice Principal as he was gaining some extra ground by taking some courses early.

As I approached the front of the long line, one of the ladies asked me if I wanted my flowers wrapped, and I said yes, but without Baby's Breath, as my wife has never liked that addition for some reason.  Now it was my turn to pay, but as I reached into my bag I realized that my wallet was not there... AH!  How embarrassing!  My brain was spinning with all the scenarios of what had happened.  This is where my young friend, Ian, jumped in.  "I got it".  My response was total surprise.  The lady responded with, "You are too nice".  I refused the kind gesture a few times, but eventually realized that Ian was going to help me no matter what.  "Don't worry about paying me back", he said, as we walked out of the store.  Well, I have no choice but to pay him back so that the flowers my wife received are actually from me... but talk about good character!

One of our city's values, as determined by the 70+ leaders who met in April 2011, is empathy.  Did Ian put himself in my shoes in my moment of need?  Absolutely!  My only thought as I left the store that day was that I wanted to be that kind of person for someone I would encounter who was in need of some help.

Thanks, Ian, for demonstrating good character in an everyday situation!

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