Maria Sestito

Maria Sestito is the public safety reporter for the Napa Valley Register.

I don’t know if it’s the way I grew up or if most of us think this way, but when someone does something nice for me my next thought is “Why?”

My question goes against my natural beliefs – no one needs a reason to be kind or to do the right thing, yet the suspicion still comes to mind.

Some actions are easily explainable, like when one of my coworkers gave me a box full of things I might need (and want) for school. Tissues, hand sanitizer, a stuffed penguin … ya know, the essentials. I know she did this because our bond feels greater than just two coworkers. I call her my friend, maybe even my family.

Other coworkers sent me off with things, too, mostly those coworkers who saw me every day, who talked to me every day.

I didn’t question these things. If I had the ability to do the same for them, I would.

But the generosity that came last week from an unexpected place caught me off guard. A former colleague of mine gave me his old iPad as well as a Kindle. The items were too valuable to accept. How could he afford to do this? Why would he do this? The fact that he is, I assume, a single straight man had me wondering if I was giving him the wrong idea if I did accept these things.

Feeling that he really didn’t have an ulterior motive, though, I was convinced to take them.

“Just pay it forward,” he said.

Someday, when I’m able to, I will help someone else in a similar way.

The two items together may be one of the most expensive gifts I’ve ever been given.

Once I got past my reluctance at accepting such gifts, I wasn’t sure how to act next. Did I seem grateful enough? Should I try to do something in return? What could possibly balance the exchange?

I have to let this thought go and let myself be inspired by the action. It gives me faith in humanity and motivates me to be a better, more giving person.

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Maria Sestito is a former Register reporter and current student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jersey Girl runs every other Sunday. Follow Maria on Twitter @RiaSestito or email her at ria.sestito@gmail.com