The other day I was standing in line at Long’s Drugstore, waiting to purchase my Dramamine and trying not to throw up from my pain. The woman in front of me was the same woman who was rushing through the store and almost ran me down with her cart (I don’t think she even recognized me from two minutes earlier). She was a well-kept, petite woman in her 50′s wearing loose white slacks and a fuchsia top, with a sticker on the right shoulder/chest area.
As I stood there, concentrating on my breathing I could hear her smiling and talking to cashier. A younger local boy, who smiled and spoke back. I don’t know exactly what was said, but as I picked my head up I saw her holding a $20 bill and then it clicked. She was trying to figure out if she had enough money to buy everything she wanted because she didn’t bring her purse for the quick shopping trip, she just brought that $20. She told the cashier to see what the total was without the chocolate first, and they would go from there. As I stood there, watching him run the items over the scanner, and giving her the total with each swipe, I did something I rarely do anymore (but should do more often). I took out my wallet and paid attention. She needed $3 to get everything because her total was $22.25. Before the cashier could void the chocolate, I put down $3 onto the black conveyor belt and said “here you go.” They both stared at me in disbelief, like I had a giant bugger hanging out of nose. After a few seconds, the lady closed her mouth and said “I don’t need money, my husband is in the car, I have money. I just ran in, it’s ok…” To which I replied, “I know, but take it. I’ve been there. Please take this.” She stared at me for another minute, with her mouth open and a look of amazement, reiterating that she has money, and didn’t need it. All the while the cashier is still frozen with his mouth hanging open, his eyes moving between us both.
I told her that I know she has money, but to take it, so she could enjoy her chocolate,and just pay it forward one day. She asked, “why?” I smiled and said “because you need it, and I have it.” Her response was “wow, so just some random act of kindness?” and I smiled and nodded.
Something to ponder…
When I was 19 years old, I was a senior in college. My life was awesome! I had the best mother in the world, I was going to college & loving every moment, to study what had been my dream since I was a kid. I was at the top of my class, having a ball, living on my own, modeling for work and cooking in kitchens for extra cash, that I gave my mom. Life was grand! Until my life came to a crashing halt, and my mom and 2 month old niece died in a car accident five days before my mom’s birthday! After which I went through a lot of ups and down’s leaving me homeless for a good portion of my life. I had no money, there was no insurance, just bills. I can remember sleeping on a park bench, and in an old car. I can remember taking showers in fast food restaurants and hanging out in Wal-Mart because it was safer than the street in the middle of the night. I never went to a shelter and I’m not sure why the idea never came to me as an option. I had no friends that would take me in, no family to help, no one and only the last $75 dollars my mom gave me (which I couldn’t bear to part with) the day before she died.
What I did have was the charity of The Ronald McDonald House, which gave me a place to stay while I collected my mom and my niece’s bodies. They gave me one night of one less thing to worry about and for that I’m eternally grateful, and will spend the rest of my life trying to repay.
When you look at me now, most people can not believe the details of my life. My life was for a long time, my deepest darkest secret because I was ashamed. But what I learned back then being 19 years old, orphaned and completely alone was something that changed me. It changed my soul, my heart, my everything.
People need help sometimes in life because of circumstance, and not because of fault. Being homeless, or “on a strict budget” isn’t always a choice, it is something that happens in life: like an accident, like a sneeze, or like a random act of kindness. You never know why someone needs something, and it is not your place to ask why, or to pass judgement. Just give. Give a dollar, hold a door open, push a cart for someone, just do something for the good of it.
If it is within your power to help someone, please do… without ego or glory because you never know how your dollar can change someone’s day or life.