Yesterday I was standing in line at the Little Caesars to pick up a Hot 'N' Ready pizza for $5. Then I saw that they have a deal going on where you can get a pizza, some italian cheesy bread and a soda for $11. Score! I ordered my combo, pulled out a $20, and got my $9 in change which I promptly put back in my wallet.
A man behind me asked, "What was that combo you just ordered?" I pointed it out on the board to him.
"Aw man, I only brought $10 ... I feel awkward asking, but you wouldn't happen to let me bum a buck off of you so I can get that combo, would you?"
Of course my first thought was It's my money ... why should I let YOU have it? And I was a bit taken aback by my own knee jerk reaction. I was taught from a young age that you work hard for your money and you don't just go giving it out to strangers on the street. That is what charities and donations are for if you want to do something kind.
However, this man wasn't some random stranger holding a sign. I knew he wasn't trying to scam me ... he was holding his $10 bill. He obviously had the means to pay $11 for the combo meal ... he just didn't bring the extra dollar with him. What he was asking for was for another human to show him a bit of kindness for the sum of 100 cents.
A flood of things that I could buy with my $1 flashed through my mind. A soda from McDonalds. 3/4 of a dry cycle at the laundromat. 1/3 of a starbucks coffee. 38 minutes of parking downtown. 1 minute of massage. A pointless lottery ticket. A candy bar...
Another memory from my childhood popped into my head. This one was from a trip I took with my Dad and Stepmom to Mexico when I was a teenager. We were on a cruise and currently docked in Cozumel enjoying the nightlife at Señor Frogs. We were all having a great time and my dad was buying drinks for all of our vacationing friends. A shot here for that fellow. A yard long drink (or two) for my mom and sister. Countless Coronas. It was the first time I ever had a shot of tequila...
But the party had to come to an end eventually. My dad asked for his bill, it arrived, and he reached back to get his wallet ... only to find it absent! In the carefree vacationing mode, he had left it back on the ship. In an instant, my dad who was a wealthy man and easily had the means to cover such a bill, found himself without the ability to do so. Luckily, I had brought all of my cash with me in the hopes of buying something nice for my at the time girlfriend back home. My father thanked me profusely and a bit sheepishly as he took my money to pay for our bill. We laugh about this experience to this day ... we were all just glad we didn't end up washing dishes in Mexico for a month to pay off our tab! (And he promptly paid me back upon our return to the ship).
But it reminded me that sometimes people, no matter how much money they have, just need a little kindness from someone else. It doesn't matter if you are the richest man in the world, or a guy just a dollar short from a pizza and some cheesy bread. At some point we will all call upon the kindness of others.
So what was my kindness worth to me? Did I value my ability to help another human to the sum of one single dollar? Do I value my kindness as worth more than a soda from McDonalds?
I'd like to think so.
"Eat well," I said with a smile as I took a dollar out of my wallet and handed it to him without another thought.
"Thanks! You're awesome!" He replied as he turned to order his large pepperoni, cheesy bread, and a 2 litter of soda.
I'll probably never see that man again, but I know that I will be paid back in full. That's just the way life works. At some point we all will rely on the kindness of others ... no matter what. And I know I wouldn't be where I am today without countless selfless acts of kindness from my friends, family ... and random strangers.
I believe that it was the best dollar I've spent all week.
Until Next Time