...Yesterday I drove almost an hour from my home into Denver to run some errands, only to realize that I had neglected to bring my money clip. I had no cash, driver’s license, I.D., or credit cards. "Great!", I said to myself. "You can either waste another two hours on a round trip to retrieve some money or come up with a Plan B."
I opted for Plan B. By appealing to their sympathy for my plight (and, no doubt, their desire for a sale), I managed to talk two different store clerks into entering my credit card numbers manually. Thanks to telephone and online purchases I know the details of my Visa card—the 16-digit code, expiration date, and security code on the back—as well as I know my Social Security number.
I was feeling rather cocky until I started the car and the fuel warning light came on. Oops...I didn’t have enough gas to make it home. Because the price runs cheaper in the city than in the foothills where I live, I had planned to fill the tank on my shopping expedition. I turned into the first service station I saw. Not wanting to push my luck with the memorized-credit-card-number speech, I scrounged around in the console for the dimes and quarters I keep for tolls and parking meters. My search yielded a grand total of $4.35.
Inside the gas station office, I waited in line behind a young customer buying three packs of cigarettes. She had blue and pink streaks in her hair, a nose ring, and a sleeve tattoo on one arm. As she collected her change and stepped aside to rip open one of the cigarette packs, I told the cashier, “Sorry about all the coins. I forgot my wallet, and I’m running low on gas. This amount should get me home.” I stacked the coins in four piles of a dollar each, and one of thirty-five cents. “No problem,” he said, and set the prepaid amount on my pump.
A few minutes later, as I was pumping my two gallons of gasoline, the tattooed, streaked-hair, nose-ringed, chain-smoking young woman came up to me. “I’ve been going through a rough patch, and I need some good karma,” she said. “So I gave the guy an extra five dollars for your pump.”
I was momentarily speechless. “No one’s ever done anything like that for me,” I said at last. “Bless you. You’ve completely changed my day.” I gave her a hug, and she walked off with a wave before I could even get her name.
From an encounter with a total stranger I got two important reminders yesterday:
> First, I sensed once again —in a tough, make-your-own-way world.
> Second, I thought of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
As I saw on a poster once, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
And, by the way, if by some chance that kind stranger happens to be reading this...THANK YOU!