I normally ride a scooter in Vietnam because it’s the quickest and most efficient way for me to get around town, buy groceries and explore. And it just so happened that the other day, when I had planned to spend the afternoon exploring a new marketplace, I realized my scooter was missing.

Worried that someone else might’ve stolen it, I asked the guard in the garage responsible for watching over the scooters.

Unfortunately, all I got was were confusing hand signals (I don’t speak Vietnamese), so instead, I went upstairs and asked some of the staff who did speak English about my scooter.

“Hm, I don’t think your scooter was stolen,” they told me. “It could just be the owner fixing it.” 

“Oh,” I said, a bit sadly. “I guess I’ll just wait.”

Sensing my disappointment, they started to discuss amongst themselves in Vietnamese, until one of the girls stood up and quietly led me downstairs to the garage before handing the keys to her own scooter to use.

Feeling grateful, I thanked her and promised to come back before her work shift ended. As I rode away on her moped, I had another idea in mind —what if I get her and the rest of the staff a gift in exchange for helping me?

Should I get them a box of donuts? A box of pastries?
OH, why don’t I get each of them a strawberry smoothie? The place I always go to makes the best smoothies in town. They’ll LOVE it! 

I bought 6 smoothies back after exploring the marketplace and handed it out along with the keys to the scooter.

They were surprised, not at all expecting any gift. I did it because I was feeling grateful and wanted to give back, but they saw it as a gesture of friendship, inviting me to hang out with them the very next day.

Sometimes, being kind to others is being kind to yourself. I didn’t have to get them anything in return; after all, it was partially their fault/their owner’s fault that my scooter was missing, but because they had selflessly offered their own scooter, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. And because of that, I only had to spend $7 in exchange for a friendship that was priceless.