This story is not about me.
It’s about a moment in seeing those around us and caring just a bit.
It’s about perspective.
And how I almost missed it.
You see, I was tired and wanted to get to the airport fast. There’s something about traveling that makes one feel the pressure of arriving early – it doesn’t seem to matter whether you travel rarely or on the every nine day or so schedule that I’m on. There’s always this nagging pressure of hurrying and anticipation.
Today was no exception, really. I was up early and just finished a two hour drive from the beach to Orlando and was standing by my rental car filling it up with gas so that I could avoid the exorbitant fuel fees of returning a car without gas. I was in a daze, my own world, and so tired. Then I heard this plea from a man with this look of desperation on his face.
Ma’am would you please have any bit of change to help us get to three dollars for a gallon of gas?
Now, perspective, I was in Orlando in the midst of the spending capital of the world. Disney, Universal, Sea World, Mega hotels, restaurants, and more were everywhere. You are talking about money being thrown around left and right in this town.
I looked at him and said no, no, no…just my card.
I didn’t want to be bothered, really. He went to the next man who didn’t even respond to him. And as the third car pulled away, who also gave him nothing, I saw his car and a woman, who I’m just calling his wife, in the front who burst into tears and put her head on the dash. She was sobbing that cry of desperation. I know. I’ve cried that cry – in different circumstances – but that cry.
I didn’t have change? Didn’t I just think nothing of spending $6 for an over priced caramel macchiato in the resort on the beach where I was staying? Now, now, now…my money is terribly tight. But, listen, I know it’s not that horrible if I will buy that syrupy coffee.
They pulled away. I felt mad at myself.
And then I saw them pull into a parking spot at this 7/11 and the man get out again. Person after person after person ignored him. So I made a decision. I’m not. I dug in my purse and found $5. That’s it. That’s all I had. I drove that rental car, the rental car that I grumbled cost me $69 to rent over to that car and pulled up next to the passenger door. With my window down I held out the five dollar bill and simply asked if it would help.
The woman burst into tears again. And the man said over and over thank you, thank you, thank you.
And then he said words that made me tear up.
I know it probably seems so strange and sad to be begging for $3.
And in that raw real moment of two human beings sharing a piece of paper with some value assigned to it I remembered a time I counted out $1.27 in change and walked into the grocery store to buy frozen vegetables for dinner because that was all I had. I remembered wondering how I was going to feed a family with $16. I remember putting in $10 of gas because that’s all I could afford.
No sir. No it doesn’t. You do what you need to do and it’s not a reflection of worth.
I could have driven away, friends. I could have gotten into that rental car and drove to drop off the vehicle and left them there and me in my shuttle on the way to the airport. I would have spent that five dollars at the airport. On coffee. Candy. Something. In fact, in that airport I spent $16 on a gluten free chicken breast with honey mustard and swiss cheese and a cherry coke.
How many times do we look away? How many times do we judge?
Oh my friends, I judged. When I first saw him I thought he just wanted my money. I lost the human connection – the struggle that we go through to put food on our tables and survive. I lost the perspective of what it was like to not be able to walk into the airport and order lunch and sit with my laptop in front of me and wait. I simply forgot to see.
Now, now, now…this isn’t about me. I don’t want or expect accolades for handing a five dollar bill for a family in need. In fact, I should have done it right away and I feel embarrassed at the thought that it took me so long. This is about seeing others.
What can you do today to see others in this frenzy of life? How can you slow down? Maybe it’s not five dollars handed to a family at a 7 11 Gas Station in Orlando, Florida. Maybe it’s a smile and a how are you doing today to the cashier at Target. Maybe it’s calling your friend out of the blue and telling her how much she matters to you. Maybe it’s writing a note. Maybe it’s not jumping to the worst conclusion first and instead operating out of the posture of grace.
These are ripple effect moments.
They are the things that change lives more than we will ever know. They’re the gifts, the blessings, the times in life where lives can be changed and even saved. They are the moments where we see each other for the potential. They are the times where we step back and simply don’t think so much about self but more about others.
Don’t be in such a rush that you miss those around you.
Love. Give grace. Care.
Those are the true finding joy moments in life.
So to all of you – I issue you a challenge – what is one thing you can do today to bless someone else? One thing. And then challenge a friend to do the same – send them theses five dollar of perspective words as a start. And then, if you want, share about it on Facebook and let’s let this one simple gift grow. #littlethingsmatter
(and by the way — this was the same day that I experienced the delayed plane and received another jolt of perspective. You can read about that here -> Waiting )
top photo credit: Bob Jenkins