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MUSED Literary Magazine.
Non Fiction

Experience At The Zoo

Manijeh Badiozamani

We are vacationing in Arizona and decide to take our grandchildren to visit the Phoenix Zoo. As we approach the gate to buy our admission tickets, my daughter-in-law informs us that she has a membership pass to the Seattle Zoo. She is wondering if her pass would be honored at the Phoenix Zoo, or at least good for some discount.

While we are walking and discussing the fee situation, a gentleman and his young daughter approach us. He offers us four free guest passes. He says he has a membership pass to the Phoenix Zoo and also guest passes that are about to expire. He is happy for us to use them.

An incredible act of kindness from a gentleman to total strangers. Whether he heard our conversation or saw our out-of-state license plate, his generosity touches my heart. We accept his gracious offer. He introduces us as his guests and hands the extra passes to the attendant at the gate. We thank him and then head for a different part of the zoo and don’t see him again. He has saved us over fifty dollars in admission fees. I think about this experience for several days – doing something nice for total strangers when they least expect it.

The incident takes me back to my childhood and a phrase I used to hear from my parents often. Roughly translated from Farsi to English it is something like this: “Perform a good deed and throw it in the Euphrates River; God will give it back to you in the desert.” As a child, I thought it was funny and absurd. How could a good deed “thrown” in a river be returned in the desert! A child’s mind can’t understand metaphors, or grasp the deep meaning of folk wisdom. What they were trying to teach me was that an act of kindness never gets lost in this world. It only spreads and it comes back to us at the time and place where we least expect it.

Remembering the old proverb, I try to think and figure out what act of kindness have I performed in the past toward a stranger that is now coming back to me in the Phoenix Zoo. Voila, I remember it.

Several years ago, my husband and I were going to a movie. I had bought four pre-paid tickets. Before entering the theater, I saw a young couple, probably on a date, getting ready to buy their tickets. I offered them my two extra tickets. The surprised look on their faces mingled with gratitude and plenty of smiles gave me a sense of incredible joy.

I have also witnessed a random act of kindness at Denver international airport right after September eleven. We were flying to New York, and many people were nervous about flying at that time. We were having lunch at a small café. A young man got up, paid for his bill and also paid for the lunch of an elderly couple who were sitting a few tables away. It still warms up my heart to remember the look on the older couple’s faces and their reaction. When they thanked the young man, he cheerfully said, “Please pass it on, do something nice for someone else.”

Whether it is in Euphrates of Asia, or at the Phoenix Zoo, or in the mountains of Colorado, no act of random kindness ever gets lost.