Sunday, March 13, 2011

Five Dollar Service

What can I say? Some days are just crummy. One of our speakers for my Career Speaker event at school got confused about the time, so I had to tell 95 waiting students that she would be back next week. I wondered if this would keep happening for our three-week event, and was I simply trying to juggle too much? I had rushed to chaperon a field trip just before that, and then I worked in a classroom that did not have enough books for an open-book test. I couldn't seem to overcome the hurdles and by late afternoon I was feeling rather down.Thursday was not my favorite day.

As I waded through the 280 traffic toward home, I wondered how I could pull myself out of an emotional tailspin. Go on a run? No energy. Go shopping? No time or extra cash. Eat chocolate? Maybe. Grace was at her internship, and Bob's kids were away for the evening. I had one appointment on the way home, then I would take an hour for myself--maybe even to consume chocolate. As I pulled up to the stoplight at Bollinger Road, I noticed a man with a cardboard "please help" sign in the median. I've seen lots of people holding signs, but never in that location just across from Wendy's hamburgers. From inside my comfortable car, still feeling a little sorry for myself and dwelling on the losses of the day, I wondered what humiliation the weathered man had been through to make a cardboard sign and sit in the median asking for donations? Had he brought it on himself? Then I snapped back into pity mode, "A frosty from Wendy's sounds really good to me, maybe just the chocolate treat I need after this undesirable day." Of course, I deserved it after all I had suffered, right?

The light seemed to take longer to turn green for the moment, and I started to get irritated that this man was affecting me and my need to consume a treat to feel better after a bad day. I looked in my coin purse--usually nearly empty--and saw two five-dollar bills. The impulse surged and just as the light turned, I pushed the button to roll down the window and handed the homeless man one of the fives. He actually started to cry, "Thank you, I love you!" he said. Then he walked across the street to Wendy's. As if I had taken a magic happy pill, the misery of Thursday's failures completely left me. I didn't worry or care about what the man would do with the five dollars, for it was worth five hundred dollars for me to erase the sad feeling I had within myself. Who knew a down day could be cured by such a simple gesture! Next time you see me or a friend stressed or a little bedraggled by the blows of the day, feel free to remind us that we don't need to consume a thing. Often, giving a little something away is all it takes to feel good.

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