“Ma’am…you don't happen to have ninety cents on you, do you?” she asked, counting out change on a picnic table. “We’re just a tad bit short.”
We were coming out of a Wawa in Clearwater Beach, Florida, just this morning. (And if you don’t know what Wawa is, this is the actual equivalent of never having seen the ocean.)
“Sure!” I replied, rummaging around in my purse. I gave her a dollar, and started off on my merry way. When I reached the car, however, I turned back around.
“Why don’t you just take this?” I said to her, laying a much larger bill on the top of her purse, which laid open on the table.
“Really?” she exclaimed.
“Girl, I’ve so been there,” I told her.
“Most people forget,” she told me, a sadness in her eyes. “That they’ve been there.”
“Girls from Philly never forget,” I said, winking.
“This is the best thing that’s happened to me all month,” she said. “Thank you.”
I’m telling you this story, right now, not because I want credit—but because I’m outright asking you to do the same for somebody else this week. And in fact, I’m going to beg you on their behalf. In the name of the too ashamed, the too timid, the too destroyed. Because in this world, there are always going to be the haves and the have-nots, and the truth is that we aren’t all starting on the same playing field. It’s not about giving away “hand-outs”; it’s about giving a hand. And I’m begging you, on the behalf of the good ones out there, to consider what the bare minimum of human decency is—and then do more. Do the thing you’re thinking you should do when you see that person. Do the thing that crossed your mind before you say, “oh well” and walk away. Do the thing you'd feel good about doing. Certainly it can't be walking by with glazed eyes, pretending not to see?
Because being able to give her the best thing that happened to her all month? Is something that realistically cost me nothing.
There’s a difference between what something appears to cost you, and what something actually does.
Sometimes, the cost of doing nothing actually costs you more.
It’s just a different kind of cost, that’s all.