Sunday, August 12, 2007

$100 dollars in my pocket

I have $100 in my pocket. It’s mine, but it is not for me. It’s for, well I don’t know yet. I suppose it all started when I was a kid. My dad was always helping people out especially the less fortunate. One of my fondest memories was helping him get wood for a widow on Christmas day. Turned out to be my best and last Christmas with him, as he died before the next Christmas. For full story see “Wood for Widows” New Era, December 2005, 36.

After my father died one of the men in our neighborhood took in a large family in addition to his large family. He didn’t have enough for his own family let alone taking on this additional family. He asked me if I could plow his field so he could grow corn and beans. I was glad for the opportunity to help him out. He wasn’t home when I finished plowing the field but he sent his son out with $20 to pay me. I didn’t want to take the money but was afraid the son wouldn’t give it back to his father. So I took it with the plan to give it back to him the next time is saw him. For a young teenager twenty dollars is hard to keep on your pocket. It was one of the hardest twenties that I have ever had to keep. In fact I couldn’t. I spent it a couple of times but managed to somehow to re-earn the money. I gave him back the $20, he tried to resist but it told him “I had no use for it”. I lied, it was all the money I had and I didn’t know when I would be able to earn more money. But he needed it more than I did.

There was the time when the bag lady (that what the kids in the neighborhood called her) was pushing her grocery cart of aluminum cans down the street. I was driving by when my daughter said, “dad give her some money”. It was around Christmas and I wanted to set a good example for my daughter. So I turned the car around, parked and got out. When I walked up too her she acted scared. She pulled her cart close to her as if she thought I was going to still her cart of cans. I handed her a $20 and said Merry Christmas. She still was still unsure of me, and what I wanted. Slowly she unfolded the bill. When she saw it was a $20 she “gasped”. Tears came to her eyes as she said “thank you”. I thought how odd, its only $20. Then I realized that to me it was less than an hour at work. To her it was several days of collecting cans.

Then there was the lady at the hotel trying to get a room. She didn’t have a credit card and didn’t have cash. I simply handed the clerk my credit card and told the clerk to bill it to me. The lady started to resist but I told her it was OK. She broke down crying and through the tears said they had been traveling all day to bring her grandson for surgery the next day. She had been to several hotels and couldn’t get rooms. They had been trying to rent a room by having a family member call in their credit card but the hotels wouldn’t let them do that.

I don’t know the first time I put the 100 dollars in my wallet. I showed it to a group of scouts once. One asked why I carried $100 in my wallet. I said, “someday someone will need it and it will be theirs”. And that is the way it has been for years. There was the widow who has been forced out of her home, the lady who was divorcing her husband for abusing her kids, the single mother so she could have Christmas for her kids, the guy who has spent time being homeless and was trying to get back on his feet, the single mother who wanted to take her girls on vacation but didn’t have the money, the lady who’s house burned down and she need clothes for her and her grandkids, the list goes on. I don’t know how many times I have given it away. But within a few weeks it has always came back. We are not rich and the family finances couldn’t handle hundreds of dollars going out. But every time I gave it away, extra money come in to replace it.

I don’t know when the $100 I now have will be need by someone, but god does. When the time is right, I will know, and it will be gone. But it will come back, it always does.