Making A Stranger’s Day A Little Lighter

, , , , , , | Friendly | May 20, 2021

I’m fourteen years old and going to a convention. I’m going with friends but I’m also quite independent. I’ve made a costume that includes ribbons, but when I get it out at the hotel to steam before the con, I realise I’ve forgotten to seal one of the edges. I seal them by carefully melting the edge of the ribbon to stop it fraying. I also realise I’ve forgotten the lighter Mum gave me that I use to do this, so I decide to head down to the local corner shop and head straight to the counter.

Clerk: “Hi, how can I help?”

Me: “Could I just buy a lighter? I don’t mind what colour.”

The clerk gives me a funny look and a man walks up behind me. Totally oblivious to the funny look, I hold up my ribbon.

Me: “I need to seal this, or it might fray, and my fabric shop doesn’t stock this ribbon anymore.”

Clerk: “Yeah… but you have to be eighteen for me to do sell a lighter to you.”

There’s a really long pause.

Me: *Whispers* “But my ribbon…”

Clerk: “Sorry.”

They don’t really sound sorry. I step out of the store and contemplate my life; naturally, fourteen-year-old me feels that this is a disaster.

Man: “Hey, girl.”

I turn and it’s the man who came up behind me. He’s holding out a lighter.

Man: “Stupid enough not to be a lie, so I bought you one.”

Me: “Ooh! Thank you so much! Really! Thank you! How much do you want?”

Man: *Handing me the lighter* “Don’t worry about it; just sort your costume!”

He heads off and I head back to my hotel. I note that the lighter looks very different from what Mum uses; it’s heavier, generally bigger, and much much easier to use. I don’t think much of it. I fix my ribbon and pack away the lighter. I enjoy the con and head home.

Whilst helping me unpack my stuff, Mum comes across the lighter.

Mum: “How much did you spend on this?!”

Me: “Huh? Oh, a man gave it to me.”

Mum: “What do you mean, a man gave it to you?!”

Me: “I forgot to seal the ribbon and went to buy a new lighter, but the clerk said no. The man behind bought me one instead.”

Mum: “This is a [Brand] lighter. They’re £5!”

Me: “Oh… Is that a lot?”

Mum: “Mine are 50p!”

Thanks, random man who helped a random fourteen-year-old. I still have that lighter fifteen years later.

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