I hate people. I love people.

So, when I was a senior in high school, I decided to try out that whole “dark and depressed moody teenager” thing. I was pretty good at it! My hair was dyed “plum,” I identified with books like The Bell Jar, and sometimes I would write terrible poetry. All in all, not a bad attempt at being cliche. During this time, a very dear friend of mine wrote me a letter (of encouragement; I think he was concerned about the poetry), and concluded with: “I hate people. I love people. I know it seems strange, but I honestly feel both ways.”

Most of the time, I hate people. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like cities, I don’t like small talk with strangers. If I’m given the choice between meeting someone new and hanging out at home by myself, the former is not even considered. If I could choose a superpower, it would probably be invisibility. Etc., etc.

AND YET. This weekend, I was in line at Dunkin’ Donuts, and my bill came up to $3.91. I said, “Hold on one second – let me see if I have a penny.” As I dug around in my purse, I could see the old woman next to me hovering, as if she wanted to break in. When I finally came up with the change, she leaned in and we had the following exchange:

Woman: If you hadn’t found a penny, I would have given you one.
Me: Oh! Thank you!
Woman: One time I was at a delicatessen that only accepted cash, and the woman in front of me didn’t have any. She was going to leave without her food, so I paid for her.
Me: Aw. How nice of you!
Woman: [waves her hand in the air as she walks away] I just said, “Make sure you do the same for someone else some time!”

I hate people. But, sometimes, they’re not so bad.

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