The work day ended like so many others of late. My husband walked through the door with $14 in his pocket after paying a consignor and buying gas. My heart sank!
Never mind the fact that we didn’t have any mortage money but we needed to eat and the cupboards were near empty again. I’ll be honest, I was angry ( not at him ) but at the situation.
Sensing this, my husband walked over, handed me all the money, and muttered a few words of encouragement.
NO! It’s NOT OK! is what I heard reverberating in my head, though I actually remained sullen and silent because I knew that if I opened my mouth, it wouldn’t have done either one of us any good.
I took a quick exit!
Only after I was ‘alone’ in the car did I allow myself to voice my opinion, question the unfairness and mutter a few prayers.
Ok, so I am a chatty shopper. I love the mundane little encounters I have with other people when I am out and about. Friday shopping is especially a treat as people are generally just getting paid and therefore friendlier as a rule.
So there I am having a conversation with another Dollar General fan, about the competitor who just opened down the road. We questioned their COSTLY optimism in opening right down from the “DG” that long had the reputation for being the Flower Town walmart, we chatted about how we never see anyone shopping there and how their prices were way out of line for this town and this economy .
How savvy we both were as consumers, I mused. Alot of good it did me, I was thinking as we parted ways.
And then I turned another corner, and my eyes met his. He was about my age ( maybe slightly older) but obviously ill ( maybe even terminally ill) and neither one of us could help but speak, even if we had wanted to avoid it. We were that close as we passed eachother.
” I wish I had thought to come earlier” he said pleasantly, speaking of the crowded store.
Yes, Friday afternoon rush, I guess. Pay day! Not for me, I am trying to figure out how to stretch $14 dollars on into next week.
“Yeah me too” He agreed and smiled the kind of smile that expressed that he understood completely.
I had no doubt that he understood. Judging from his appearance, he was definitely fighting his own battles, and God only knew to what degree.
My heart hurt for him and I suddenly realized how lame I had been in feeling so sorry for myself earlier.
With that, we both nodded and I went on down the aisle.
He was saying something as I took off towards the back of the store but I didn’t realize he was talking to me.
Suddenly his voice became as clear as a bell, as if he cleared his throat and called his last breath to be heard.
“Will a ten help?”
I looked back out of pure curiosity and eyed him stopped in the aisle some 20 feet down and he was looking straight at me.
I was amazed but still not sure I had heard him correctly.
I moved cautiously toward him. And he waited with no sign of hesitation. He never once took his eyes off me.
Pardon me Sir. Did you say something?
“Well yes, I did! Will a ten help? You said you had $14 bucks to live on?”
My instincts told me to politely decline the offer but something in the way he was looking at me told me not to. It was almost if by doing so I would be denying him something. Even more logically, is the fact that I NEEDED this blessing and I needed to be open to receiving it, right?
WoW, thank you I said. Are you sure? I mean you don’t even know me.
“Yes, he said I am sure. It’s not a big deal!”
By this time my hands were shaking and tears were welling up in my eyes . I hugged his frail frame.
Look I said. If you give me your address. I will pay you back.
“No” he said, “that’s ok, really!” And then he turned to leave but paused.
What’s your name? he asked.
His face lit up and his eyes smiled . “My wife’s name was Cheryl. She passed away. So you see, this was meant to be and it is a blessing for me that I was able to do this. ”
I walked away, praising GOD with the hair standing straight up on the back of my neck! 🙂