Jacob worked as a ride operator at Cedar Point in Ohio. Several times a week, he saw a little girl with her grandmother, who only rode the carousel once. When he heard that they were having trouble paying their bills, he decided to buy her tickets every day. After 16 years, the little girl went looking for him with a big surprise in mind.

Natalie looked in her old boxes for something she knew she had put there. She was in the attic of her house, and the one tiny light on the ceiling let light in. There was dust flying around the room, which tickled her nose and made her sneeze sometimes. But she was set on her mission.

She took out papers, old gadgets, old books, and a lot of other things from those boxes. Some of these things had turned beige with age, and the whole room smelled musty. Natalie wanted to get out of there quickly because it wasn’t fun, but she wouldn’t leave until she got what she needed.

Natalie was in her attic looking for something important, like a memory from her childhood.

She finally found it at the bottom of one of the last boxes in the attic. She hoped that the old Polaroid was still in good shape. Even though the image was stored badly, it was still good. Natalie smiled as she looked at it and smiled. “Cedar Point, Summer 2006” was written on the back.

“Why are you doing that? “It’s too much money,” the older woman said, putting her fingers to her chin in concern.
Even though she hadn’t thought about it in a long time, memories started coming back to her like a beautiful movie she would never forget.

As a child, she went to Cedar Point in Ohio, which was a theme park. As a 10-year-old, she remembered how the rides sounded like metal, how the air smelled like sweet cotton candy, and how the kids ran around yelling.

That time was perfect in every way, and she mostly felt thankful. Her grandmother saved money here and there so that she could take her there every day that summer. But when someone else heard her story, everything changed. That’s why she went to the attic to look for that Polaroid. She wanted to remember that man and what he’d done for her.

Sixteen years ago…

“Grandma! “Look!” Natalie, who was ten years old, told her grandmother when they first got to the park. The little girl’s eyes got big at the thought of kids flying around, eating caramel popcorn and blowing bubbles. She wanted to do all of those things, but she knew they didn’t have enough money.

She pulled on her grandmother’s hand until they got to her favorite ride, the carousel.

She pulled on her grandmother’s hand to get her to move toward their real goal, which was the carousel. Natalie was crazy about something. She loved horses, and for a long time, her dream was to go on that ride. Gina, her grandmother, said they’d go that summer, and Natalie couldn’t believe they were already there.

They always lived close to the park, so Natalie often heard the screams of the people on the roller coaster, saw the tired kids with their parents when they left, and sometimes looked longingly at the lights through her window at night. She wanted to go on all of those rides, but she was mesmerized by a picture in a magazine of a vintage carousel in the park with beautiful white horses decorated with plastic flowers.

Finally, they got to the ride, and Natalie felt so sad that she wanted to cry. It was just like she thought it would be, like something out of a movie. “Can you believe it, Grandma?” she asked the older woman as she tightened her grip on her.

Her grandmother gave a warm smile and sat down. “Yes, I can. Then go ahead, I’ll give the ticket to the person running the ride.”

Natalie let go and ran to the ride, stopping briefly to choose which horse she wanted to sit on. All of them were so pretty, but they were different colors and had different expressions on their plastic faces. For a ten-year-old, it seemed like the hardest choice she would ever have to make.

She was very happy and wanted to ride the carousel a lot, but they couldn’t.

“Hurry up, Naty! “The ride’s about to begin!” Her grandmother called out and laughed at how confused her granddaughter was.

Natalie finally chose the horse with pink hair and a blue saddle. She would never forget that moment or the way her grandmother looked as she waved at the ride every time it went by.

It was the best thing that had ever happened to her. The kind of time-stopping moment you’ll never forget. For a short time, Natalie forgot that her family was having trouble. She was just one of the kids who didn’t have to worry about anything when they played in this expensive place.

The ride on the carousel was over way too soon, and when she got off the horse, she felt sad and happy at the same time. Her grandmother was waiting for her and took her by the hand.

“So, Naty, how was it? ” asked the old woman.

“It was fun, but I wish I could go again,” the girl said, looking up at her grandmother with hope. Her grandmother sighed deeply.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. Right now, that’s all we can pay for. But I promise that from now until the end of summer we can come here every day and get you one ride. So, you can remember the event for a longer time. What do you think? “, her grandmother said, and Natalie beamed.

Jacob gave her a crazy offer, and Natalie got what she wanted the most at the time.

“Really? Yay! ” She jumped around while still holding her grandmother’s hand and cheered.

Gina kept her promise in every way. Even though they came every day, it never got old. Natalie only rode the carousel. She learned the name of the ride operator, Jacob Salas, who always wore a red hat with his park uniform. He must have been in his 20s, but he dressed like he was much older.

When her grandmother went to the bathroom one day, Mr. Salas came up to her. “While you wait for your grandmother, why don’t you ride again? ”

“I apologize, sir. We can only afford one ticket per day. My father died a long time ago, and my grandmother no longer works, so my mother is the only one who brings in money for us. Natalie told the ride operator, “I don’t have enough to spend on rides.” The operator nodded to show that she understood.

But as he leaned in to look in her eyes, she saw a spark in his eyes. “Do you know what? I’ll buy you tickets for this ride for as long as you want. How does this sound? ” He smiled at the girl, who widened her eyes in shock.


“Really!” He nodded and pushed her to get on the ride again.

Gina didn’t want to say yes, but Jacob told her that Natalie would be so happy if she did.

Natalie was on the carousel spinning when Gina came back and asked Mr. Salas about it. “Don’t be worried, ma’am. She can ride today and from now on for as long as she wants. It’s my fault.”

“Why are you doing that? “It’s too much money,” the older woman said, putting her fingers to her chin in concern.

Jacob gave a head shake. “It isn’t. I don’t have that many bills, and that girl is having more fun than anyone else in this park.”

“No!” After a few minutes, Jacob yelled. “No! I can’t take this, young lady. “This is too much!”
Natalie could ride the carousel as much as she wanted that summer because the ride operator kept his word. Gina sometimes bought them caramel popcorn or sodas with the money she saved from not buying as many tickets. They always gave them to Jacob as a way to thank him for being kind. One day, they even took a Polaroid picture together. In it, Natalie was wearing Jacob’s red hat and smiling at the camera.

It was the best thing Natalie could remember from her childhood. By the end of the summer, she was tired of the park and the carousel. One day, she thanked Jacob and said goodbye, and that was the last time she saw him.


For some reason, Natalie started to think about that summer and look for that photo. She knew she had taken it with her when she went to college many years ago, but she couldn’t find it.

Natalie married a rich man, and after that, her life was nothing like it was when she was a child.

And her life had gone in such a different direction. Natalie got a scholarship to a college in Philadelphia, where she met her husband, Anthony, whose family was incredibly wealthy. It was scary to not have to worry about anything, not even money. Her husband had even bought a house for her grandmother and mother in Ohio so they would never have to pay rent again.

It was wonderful. She had worked hard her whole life, but wonderful, kind people were always there to help her in many ways. Natalie thought she had done all she could to repay them with her love, friendship, and loyalty. But Mr. Salas was the only person she hadn’t paid back.

She asked Gina, “Grandma, do you remember Mr. Salas?” after telling her how she found the photo of the three of them at the park.

“Oh, you mean that young man who let you ride on that carousel? The older woman said, “I haven’t thought about him in a long time.” “If you want, I can ask around.”

“Please! Natalie kept talking. “I want to know if there’s any way I can repay him for being kind to us back then.”

“Oh, darling. I’m so happy with the woman you’ve grown up to be. It’s amazing!” Gina’s voice was full of emotion as she cried out.

She called Gina and asked about Mr. Salas because she wanted to do something for him like he did for her.

“It’s all your fault and your mother’s. “I hope you know that, Grandma,” the younger woman said, smiling.

“I’ll try to find Mr. But, hey, could you send me a copy of that Polaroid? “I can use that in my search,” said the older woman.

“What a great thought!” Natalie said, “I’ll take a picture of it with my phone,” and she did.

A few days later, Gina called her and told her that Jacob still lived in Ohio. Also, someone gave her his name, address, and phone number.

Natalie called him as soon as she could and asked him about his life and what he was doing at the time. They talked for almost an hour.

“A lot has changed since I used to go to that park. Jacob told her, “I almost wish I could go back there sometimes.” He then told her what had happened since they had last seen each other.

Jacob said that later that year, he got married and had four kids with his wife before she left them. He had to work two jobs to keep them from going broke. Two of his kids were old enough to work after school so they could go to Cedar Point sometimes.

Natalie told him how important it was to her to remember the carousel and what he did at it.

Natalie started to cry as she told Mr. Salas, “When I was a little girl, you gave me what I wanted most, which was to ride that carousel as much as I wanted. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I still appreciate what you did.” “What would you want right now if you could have anything?”

“Oh wow. I really want so many things for my children. But I would take them to Magic Kingdom because I love amusement parks. But the trip costs a lot on its own, and the park tickets are even more expensive. “I’m saving up for it, though, so it will happen one day, even if my kids are grown by then,” Mr. Salas said. Even though he was having trouble with money, he had a positive view of life.

He’s like Grandma. Natalie thought that she was always happy and tried to downplay how hard things were for us.

After a few more minutes of talking, they finally said goodbye.

Natalie knew what she needed to do and was looking forward to it. She asked her grandmother for help getting all the personal information she needed to buy plane tickets from Mr. Salas’s oldest son. Natalie called Mr. Salas again a week later.

“Check your email, sir,” she said, her hands sweating from excitement.

“No!” After a few minutes, Jacob yelled. “No! I can’t take this, young lady. “This is too much!”

Natalie made Jacob promise to take her gift, and she asked him to send her pictures.

“It’s not enough when I think about how much that summer meant to me. You once bought me a ticket, so this is how I’m paying you back. Enjoy it. Do it for your kids because they’ll remember those carefree rides for the rest of their lives, and trust me, there’s nothing like it,” Natalie insisted, and in the background she heard Mr. Salas crying.

Then she heard cheers and knew he had told his kids, because they all eventually came to the phone. “Thank you! They shouted, “Thank you!”

Natalie bought them all plane tickets to Orlando, Florida, and made reservations at a Disney Resort so they could go to Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, and Animal Kingdom. She felt very proud of herself when she heard them cheering on the phone.

Yes, her husband was rich, but she paid for all of that with her own money, and in the process, she made a whole family happy. This beautiful moment came about because of her hard work and good luck.

Natalie joked, “Don’t forget to take pictures and send them to me.”

“Miss, you are… I’m speechless. I will send a lot of photos. Thank you!” Mr. Salas thanked him, and they ended the call.

She was no longer having the best time of her life on the carousel. This happened.

Natalie put the phone down on the coffee table in her living room and stared at nothing in particular while thinking deeply. She made a mistake years ago. Riding the carousel wasn’t the best thing that had ever happened to her. This was.