Alternative titles include “HEY LOOK I’m a Good Person!” or “If someone is nice to someone else and doesn’t blog about it, does it still count?”
The other day, I was in a foul mood. Seriously foul. I was hungry, hot, tired, and frustrated. I was upset with everyone for no reason. Plain ol’ grumpy. I didn’t want to have my friends over for dinner, even, and that’s my favorite thing on earth. “I have to go to the grocery store and that’s JUST because I’m having friends over!” I thought, grumpily. Walking through the produce section was no better. “Where are the RIPE avocados? Gosh, I guess I will have to MAKE SOMETHING ELSE.”
It’s a good thing I was alone, because I was so inside my head, and unhappy.
I finally figured out what I’d make for dinner (comfort food, because you can’t feed the angry monster anything else!) and checked out.
Walking to my car, I was thinking I’d never get to turn around because I was parked on a busy street. Grumble grumble grumble. I put my groceries in my car, took the cart back, and that’s when I saw him.
He was sitting against the store with a sign near him. He wasn’t holding it, but it was definitely his. He was my age. Dusty. Head in his hands. Tear stains on his cheeks. The sign said he was broke and traveling.
I thought, “I could get in my car now and drive away, or I could go talk to him for a minute.” I waffled. I knew I should go get on with dinner, but I also knew I needed to get out of my head in order to be a good friend and hostess for some of my dearest friends on the planet.
I walked over to him. “Hi,” I said. I realized I was nervous. What do I say now?
He looked up. “What?” he asked, startled, I think, to be talked to at all.
“I… don’t have any cash,” I started, “but are you hungry? Can I get you a sandwich or something?”
He said yes, he was hungry. A sandwich would be great.
“We’re in front of a grocery store. Does anything else sound better?” No, thanks, a sandwich is just fine. Thank you.
“Something to drink? A soda?” Mountain Dew, please.
“I’ll be right back.”
Already feeling a little lighter, I walked back into the store. I went straight for the deli section and got the biggest sandwich they carried. Then the soda, and chips. “That’ll be $9,” said the checker at the deli. I used my debit card, and got cash back. I found napkins and put everything into a little brown bag, hiding the $20 under the sandwich.
When I saw him again, I put the bag down next to him, and said, “I’m very sorry, and I hope your day gets a little better.”
He looked at me and thanked me.
I watched him a little from my car, and saw how happy he was with his … picnic dinner. He didn’t see the cash immediately, but he picked himself up and walked away, hopefully toward a more scenic picnic spot than the busy street.
I floated home on a cloud. The voice in my head reminded me, “all of your problems are first world problems.”
I pulled up to my house, and Brent was right behind me.
“How are you?” he asked, anticipating that the answer would be grump grump grumpy.
I smiled. “I’m great. Really, really great. Can you help me with this one bag of groceries?”
I know that this is nowhere near altruistic, since hello, I’m writing it here (and, full disclosure, I’ve told this story a few times to help people understand that I’m a good person!) and I helped a stranger because I knew it would make me feel better. But if you ever want to change your outlook entirely, find a stranger who needs some kindness, and show them some.
It might be the best way to “blow” $29 I have ever known.