🍵: The One Small Act That Can Transform Someone's Life

It was a small situation. But in that moment it felt like our entire trip was at risk.

I was 12,194 km away from home and couldn't pay for food.

We stumbled upon a night market in the parking lots of Shaftsbury Square. Over the last 2 months, we've been to Singapore and 7 cities along Malaysia's west coast. We've seen many night markets.

But this one was special.

As soon as I entered the night market, I felt relief.

It was quieter, more comfortable, and much slower. It was ... cozy. As if you were visiting very good friends in their cozy apartment, with warm tones and lighting, to hang out. Those friends with whom you talk and suddenly realize that it's already 4 am. But you still don't want to go home. Because it's just so easy and comfortable with these people.

The market was small. We thought it wouldn't take much time to find some food. Especially if you're vegetarian. So we took our time to scan the different stalls, taking in the sights and smells of this unique night market.

And there it was. The place where it would happen.

My wife and I walked up to the street food stall we liked. We picked out some delicious-looking dishes, and lined up to pay. She scanned the QR code and it didn't work. She scanned again but it didn't work again. Strange. "Let me try," I said, thinking maybe her phone was just acting up. "Damn, mine doesn't work either." I tried for 5 times. Error. The money just wouldn't send. This happened for the first time.

We asked the young guy what it could be. But he didn't understand English. He walked to the back where an older Malaysian woman was sorting food.

And we stood there. Feeling helpless and embarrassed.

"We don't have any cash left," I realized with a sense of urgency. My mind began to spiral into a flurry of worries: What if our cards stopped working? What if we can no longer withdraw money? What if we won't find a way to pay for food and other necessities?"

Within one second, I saw every possible negative outcome.

It was a small situation. But in that moment it felt like our entire trip was at risk.

Stop. No. "Everything will be fine. We'll figure it out," I said, intending to reassure my wife. But in reality, I was seeking to comfort myself.

And then, the older Malaysian woman looked up from the back of the stall, waved her hand, and said, "It's okay. Just go and enjoy your meal," or at least that's what it seemed like she said. Because it was in Malay.

In an instant, all my worries melted away.

Maybe she started her day before dawn. Maybe she dealt with problems at home. Maybe she had stress with managing her tiny empire. Who knows what this kind Malaysian woman was going through until that moment? And now these foreigners.

Yet still, she was so kind and understanding.

It can be so easy. But so powerful.

To let go of our fears and worries. And instead show compassion and understanding towards others.

To realize that everyone is fighting their own battles. And that a small act of kindness can make all the difference in someone's day.

It can be so easy. But so powerful.