How to make a new friend with a free ticket

I had one extra museum ticket in my hand.

I didn’t ask for it. The ticket counter staff gave it to me.

Well, she didn’t exactly give it to me. She told me that there was a one-for-one deal to the museum.

I came to the museum alone, so I told her that I could just pay the full price of one ticket. I didn’t want that one extra free ticket to go to waste.

She looked me in the eye, before telling me that whatever I was going to do with that one ticket, it’d be up to me (a.k.a. it was none of her business).

I felt unsettled. In her mind, this ticketing lady was trying to be helpful in giving me a free ticket, but the way I saw it, she was serving me a problem on a golden plate.

She began typing into her computer to issue the tickets. What was I going do with that one extra ticket?

As if reading my mind, her computer went into a freeze, refusing to budge under her command. So, her next-counter colleague printed the tickets instead.

When her colleague handed me the two tickets, it felt like I had been cursed.

I walked away from the counter, thinking non-stop what to do with that one extra ticket.

Should I give it to one of the security guards? No, that’s silly — he’d have staff discount or gone into the museum a thousand times.

Should I throw the ticket into the bin? No, that’d be a waste. And cowardly.

I could pass this ticket to one stranger.

Should I leave the ticket at the counter for the next single person? Ah, good idea. I went back to the ticket counter and waited for my turn.

I glanced at the people joining the ticketing queue. Couples. Families with kids. Retirees. I was looking for that one stranger.

Then one single visitor showed up. There was a gap between her and the family in front of her, so she must be a solo traveler.

No, she looked like an angry middle-aged lady. I’d pass.

A while later, a young, pleasant-looking lady joined the queue. She looked friendly enough, so I approached her.

I explained to her that I had a free ticket and I was giving it to her. She offered to pay for the ticket instead. Having worried so much over the past ten minutes, it felt like a miracle to meet such a graceful human being.

We ended up checking out the museum together and exchanging contacts.

If people love free things (which people usually do), why did I freak out so much over giving out a free ticket?

Somehow I was worried that people would be cynical and reject my offer straight away.

Instead, that one free ticket became an opportunity to connect with a stranger. A fellow human being whom now I call a friend.

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