I promised some stories last week. Thanks to everyone who said such sweet, encouraging words to a very, selfish woman. Namely, me. I forgot that Christmas isn't about how others make me feel, but about what I give out. And all year long, too...not just Christmas.
Now for the stories. A few days ago, Dino and I got wrapped up in the most ridiculous texting marathon. We collaborated on a fairytale that was born out of sheer frustration and we had more fun than two grown women should have...on a weekday...without liquor. You can read it, in parts, here. I've known her forever and our sense of humor has grown up together, influenced greatly by Monty Python and just plain silliness. So that's one story...how two women, thousands of miles apart, found a little joy in the middle of a drab, routine week just being girls again. And using the words "belch", "poo" and "flatulent", many, many times. Who knew?
The other story happened last week, just a few blocks from my house at a Circle K. My daughter and I had stopped to put gas in my car at the end of a very long day. I was a little grumpy (see previous blog) and feeling sorry for myself. It was very cold that night, unseasonably so for Louisiana, and I was leaning against the car pumping my gas, when I noticed a man wandering up the sidewalk. He had on many layers of clothes, tattered and worn, a full red beard, ruddy cheeks, warm smile. He asked the woman next to me if she could spare some change.
"I won't give you money," she said, "but I'll buy you something to eat."
"Okay, Burger King has $1 double cheeseburgers."
The Burger King was just two blocks down from the Circle K.
"If you want to eat, I'll buy you a sandwich here. I'm not going to Burger King."
"Okay, whatever you think. I just know that food here is pretty expensive."
"It's here or nothing," she said, rather sharply.
"Okay, whatever you think is best," he answered with a smile.
So he stood there, waiting for her to finish and when she did, she popped the cap back on, put the nozzle back in the pump, got in her car and drove away.
And there he stood. Hands in pocket. Our eyes met, and he smiled and turned away. Like this happened all the time. I think what got to me was that smile. He didn't yell or curse at her. Just smiled. How could she just drive away, I thought? I was sick.
I finished pumping my gas and called out to him. I told him I was going down the street to Burger King and asked would he like a burger or two?
"I wouldn't want you to go out of your way," he said. There was that smile again.
I told him I was going there anyway for my daughter, and if he would be here for a few minutes, I'd bring them back to him. He said okay, he'd stick around for a few minutes and sat down on the bus stop bench.
When I came back a a few minutes later, my daughter rolled down the window and said, "Sir? We brought you some food."
He walked over to her window and peered past her to see who was driving and for a minute, looked as if he didn't recognize me.
Then he smiled and said, "You came back."
"Yeah, there's hot coffee, too. Cream and sugar in the bag."
"Thanks, ma'm and have a good evening."
And there was that smile again. As we drove away, my daughter and I talked for awhile about why some people end up living alone, out on the streets. Some by choice, but so many by one bad break after another. And we talked about how easy it truly is to give in small ways, everyday. And how we wished we could give more.
I didn't tell this story to pat myself on the back, it was just a bag of cheeseburgers. But just to remind myself that we're all in this together. And a bad day to me, is still a great day. And those who have great days, and families, warm homes, and cars, can always reach out and show a little kindness to someone who has so little.
That's all...two stories, both different, but both about bringing a little joy.