After work today, I went with one of my co-workers, to Smart&Final, a supermarket, to get a few supplies that I needed for my family. After we were done shopping, we started loading up the car with our supplies when a woman came up to me, “I’m so embarrassed to ask this,” she asked my co-worker, a forty-year-old man instead of me, a seventeen-year-old teenager, “but my ATM card isn’t working and I need to buy some food for my son. All I need is thirty dollars. Please can you lend me some money? I promise to pay it back.”
She was a husky, Hispanic woman with blonde hair. She wore a black dress and high-heeled shoes that matched, so she wasn’t poor obviously. “Please,” she repeated the word to my co-worker; she was almost in tears. It must’ve been very hard for her to ask a complete stranger for money.
“Sorry, I don’t have any money,” my co-worker lied. I knew he had money in his pocket inside a tiny plastic bag, but he didn’t want to give it to anybody. As soon as my co-worker said that he had no money, she began to walk away with one of the most depressed faces I’ve ever seen.
I thought of the money I had in my pocket. I had twenty dollars saved for a parking permit for school and six dollars in lunch money, which I didn’t even use. “I have money,” I called back to her.
“What?” She walked back in her high-heeled shoes, which slammed against the black asphalt of the parking lot.
“I have money,” I repeated as I searched through my pockets and brought the money out. I thought about all the consequences of giving her money and threw them out of my mind. I live just fine, I thought to myself, and she’s in need. She needs to feed her family.
“Thank you. God bless you, sir.” She tried to give me a handshake, but I didn’t accept, instead I hugged her.
“I understand that the economy is bad and all—”
“I’ll pay you back,” she interrupted me.
“It’s ok,” I let go of her and waved my hands in front of me, “you don’t need to.”
“What do you do?” She stared at me with stunning green-eyes of interest.
“I work at a dry cleaners,” I opened the door to the van.
“I’ll be sure to come by and give you a big stack of clothes,” she smiled. “Can I have the phone number for the dry cleaners?”
“Umm…yeah, sure,” I shuffled through my backpack to get a notebook and a pen to write down the number of where I worked. I handed her the sheet with the number on it, “It’s just right down the street from here.”
“Okay, okay,” she shook her head. “Thanks again.” She walked off to a beat-up car and inside was a Hispanic man in a baseball cap and a little boy. “God bless you again.”
“No problem,” I called out to her as I shut the door to the van.
“How much did you give her?” My co-worker started the van.
“Don’t worry,” I looked him dead in the eyes, “just be happy that you’re not like her.” I didn’t know what came over me when I said this to someone twice my age, but somehow I just blurted it out. He just shrugged his shoulders and went to our next delivery.
During the entire trip, I thought of how lucky and thankful I was for what I have. I also thought of never seeing that twenty-six dollars again, but I didn’t really care. Money was always money. A good deed was always a good deed. I know somehow I’ll be repaid.