“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
“Hey, I’ve got mine.”
“I’ve earned this.”
“Nobody’s taking anything away from me.”
“Let them take care of themselves.”
Almost 15 years ago, I was just beginning the single mom chapter of my life. I’d just built a house for my son and myself. Not long after we moved in, my household income took a major hit and I found myself treading water, holding my kid above my head as the sharks circled. I was thrown a lifeline by someone I’d never even met, the father of a friend.
This man is not an educated man, in the official sense of the word. But he tips the scale on wisdom.
This man worked over 40 years in what would be called an unskilled profession. But he was skilled at his job, and demonstrated a work ethic that was rewarded by his employer as if he was an executive.
This gentleman, in his blue collar custodial job, saved diligently and had put together a nice-sized nest egg for his retirement. In other words, he’d “got his” –and had earned every penny, every accolade, and had every right to enjoy his retirement by taking it easy and looking out for number one.
Instead, he put $1000.00 in a plain envelope and told my friend to give it to me.
My friend had mentioned my circumstances to this hero in passing, and he decided to help. A couple of weeks later he surprised my friend with the envelope, who then floored me by putting it in my hands.
Did I mention that I never had met this man?
Once I had a flat tire. My son and I were in Goodyear, being told that the tire could not be saved and that it would cost 80 dollars to replace it with a new one. I put my face in my hands, took a deep breath, and told my kid to sit in the lobby for a minute while I stepped into the restroom (to wipe the tears that I hoped no one could see).
I got it together, came out of the restroom and told the counter guy I couldn’t pay for a tire. He leaned over and said, “That’s okay, it’s taken care of.” I didn’t get it, and Goodyear man quietly said, “Someone took care of paying for the tire while you were in the restroom.”
And that someone had left before I could thank him because he wanted to remain anonymous.
Did I mention that a perfect stranger paid for my car repair while I was in the bathroom?
I have another dear friend who would do, and has done, things like this and much more, for others. But he’d be uncomfortable being lauded here, so I’ll leave it at this: you know who you are and you need to know that your generosity is beyond anything I’ve ever seen on this earth.
Now I’ve never been able to hand someone a thousand dollars, but if and when the need arises and I actually possess a thousand dollars, it will happen. I was able to anonymously buy a tire for a lady at Goodyear not long after the stranger did it for me. Hopefully she’s done the same for someone along the road.
The cash-filled envelope from a stranger changed me. No, I take that back. It wasn’t the money but the discovery that there was someone in the world who would extend such a gesture. On that day, my journey to Grown-upsville began; I have had the greatest personal growth in the last 15 years than in the previous 33. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be rich to be a hero. That you don’t have to be famous to be a beacon of hope. That the most heroic acts are those for which the giver seeks no glory. That if you’re not giving, you’re not living.
Now that I’ve learned those concepts, I try–sometimes successfully, sometimes not– to live them; I think that’s what the real journey is about. If we are striving to make sure the good in life is secured not just for ourselves but for ALL of us, then the peace we achieve will be all the reward we need.