Friday, November 15, 2013
Five Dollar Moments
It's a Friday night. I'm alone here in the house and the evening spreads before me like a buffet. I can do whatever I want. You know, I've craved for a night like this for a while, with zero responsibilities, nothing on the agenda and nothing to do but whatever I want.
I have a pile of books that have been gathering dust as I buckle down to write this latest novel. But I've spent the week huddled over a screen both with a heavy and important story and the book, and well, that's work. This is my night to not work.
So should I read? Maybe..but first....
A glass of wine!
Yes certainly. A nice dinner, check. Television? Unless there's a movie on, nah....Just not my thing.
So what to do, what to do...
And then I see the five dollar bill.
And I contemplate it.
And I remember the other five dollar bill.
I remember a five dollar moment.
I'm weak. I decide I will write after all..for just a while..because I have to call in my favours.
Isn't that an appropriate thing to do on a "me" night? Of course. I want you to do something for me. Perfect.
You see today somebody brought me a donation. For a homeless man I know. She was apologetic that it wasn't more. I assured it was more than enough. And it is.
It is sitting there on my side table.
And it reminded me of another five dollar bill., one I handed to a girl who asked for change. It was found money. I always save found money and give it away. Usually to a donation box at a bank or in Christmas perhaps the Salvation Army Kettle.
But that day in Toronto, it was different. I remember that five dollar bill. That day, in Toronto, in a city I love, a girl in a corner store, downtown, asked for loose change.
She was charging her phone at the store. I am guessing she had no home in which to do this. She held out her hand, eyes averted, in a nonchalant, almost automatic motion.
She was not expecting anything.
But I remembered the crumpled blue bill in my pocket, pulled it out and handed it to her. I will never, to my dying day, forget the look on her face. I know it may have been the idea of the next drug fix for her and that was part of it. But there was more. The obviously strung out girl had been the beneficiary of a kindness--perhaps the only one she had received that day. Perhaps the only one she had received in a long period of time. And whether she realized it or not, she had also been the recipient of respect.
Because she got there through some tragic circumstance and the only way she would ever be inspired to get up from there would be through respect, not disdain, through kindness, not disgust, through understanding, not judgement. And I hold only respect, kindness and understanding towards all people.
She may have forgotten that moment but I have not. It affected me. And I determined that I would do more of that sort of thing.
So, here I am...tada!
Because now I know another person who needs help. Less a stranger than that girl but not much. He's a man who lives in the cold dark basement of an abandoned house. He is the friend of a friend and he's cold at night. He walks the streets during the day under the stigma of homelessness.
Yet he isn't negative, mostly he's hopeful and he spends a lot of his time helping those less fortunate than he is. Yes..there are many who are.
Thanksgiving is coming. Christmas is coming. These holidays should be an oasis. Something to look forward to. Instead they're a reminder of all he doesn't have. All that thousands upon thousands do not have through whatever circumstance led them there. I can't help them all. But I can help him. And he will help them. He's that kind of man.
A home will lead to a job. There are jobs, but without a permanent address, not one for him.
And as the thermometer dips despair rises. The sleeping bag on the cement floor of the dingy six by six room of an abandoned house, slated for demolition isn't good enough. The dark closes in early these days leaving little occupation. There is no light by which to read, no television, no microwave to make a bag of popcorn and kickback for the night. Tonight I am warm but he is cold.
When my friend reached out for his friend, I answered. I will donate. Of course I will. But my own gift isn't enough, so I asked around. Today another five dollar bill came.
One dollar at a time. That's what my cousin said. I think with inflation five dollars at a time is more appropriate. But anything at all helps.
So I'm calling in my favours now. I'm asking for you to help me. It is a me night after all!
So here it is! Payback time.
If I have done you a kindness, help this man. If I've said a word to you to make you feel better, help this man. If I have inspired you, motivated you, entertained you, pissed you off, made you laugh, made you cry, made you food, got naked for you(keep things anonymous please)(It's a JOKE mom), gotten dressed for you(I love pajama days), made you hate me, argued politics with me(I'm right, you're wrong but whatevs.) help this man.
If my hockey team has beaten your hockey team, help this man. (My team is The Bruins, the opposite is not possible).
Even if you're a stranger on the internet and don't know me whatsoever, help this man.
I want more five dollar moments.
I want to see that look in another person's eyes. The one I saw that day in Toronto.
I want you to see it.
I want you to have a five dollar moment also.
email me. firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll hook you up.
And I'll report back at a later date with an update.