From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

I Just Can’t Believe It

Our lives will always be full if our hearts are always giving.


After 30 years of service with American Airlines, I retired after my 50th birthday. At this point, I finally began what God had intended for me to do with the last half of my life: to inspire, to motivate and to create special moments.

In June of 1995, I stopped at the local service station where I regularly get my gas and occasionally buy a lottery ticket. Millie was on duty. She is a kind and loving soul who always has a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. On that evening, we joked and laughed as we had so many times in the past. I teased her by saying that I would give her $1,000 if I won the $10-million lottery. Millie said that if I won I’d better take her to Paris for lunch, and she didn’t mean Paris, Texas. We both got a big “Texas kick” out of that. As I drove off, I thought how interesting it was that for me, “lottery” equaled $10 million, while for Millie, it meant lunch in Paris. Millie didn’t know of my connection with the airlines.

Around the 21st of December, I was once again at the service station. Millie was on duty. I handed her a Christmas card and asked that she open it and read it as I stood there. Millie opened the card and started reading:

Dear Millie,

On June 17, 1995, you sold me this lottery ticket (enclosed). Well, I didn’t win the $10 million or the lottery, but you did. Pick your date in 1996, pack your bags, and get your passport ready for your luncheon trip to Paris. This is my gift to you for going out of your way to make everyone you come into contact with feel special. Thank you. God bless you, and have a Mary’s Merry Christmas.

Millie could not contain herself. She was literally thrashing around in the little cubicle. I could hardly contain myself, either. At that moment, at a soul level, I understood what it meant to create special moments for the people in our lives.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen Millie several times.

Each time I enter the service station, her face lights up as she reaches across the half-opened door to hug my neck and kiss my face. She speaks of how she still “just can’t believe it,” how she phoned her mom, told her boss, and on and on. But what touched me the most was when Millie told me, “Mary Ann, it says in my will that if I died before I got that lunch, my instructions were to have my ashes sprinkled over Paris.”

Mary Ann Dockins

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