Part 1 of 2
It was a day pretty much the same as any other. I was in my car on my way somewhere, probably listening to music from a CD. The next off-ramp was mine, so I moved over and headed up to the light at the intersection.
There he was, standing there by the side of the road, waiting. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me, but our eyes met and something happened.
I knew why he was there. He needed money. I shifted in my seat, so I could reach my wallet, and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. I opened my window and felt a gust of cold air blow by me and fill my car. I handed him the folded bill. His eyes showed some life and he spoke to me, “thank you, god bless you.”
That was over six years ago, but I still remember it. One reason is because I decided on that day, to be ready in advance, for the next time I saw someone in need.
It’s became a blessed part of me.
I’d like to share some of what I’ve experienced during these brief encounters.
When I pass along an offering, the responses I receive in return are a mixture of gratitude and well wishes for my day or evening or season, especially at Christmas time. I’m offered smiles and waves. I’m called, brother or sir or friend. And sometimes, the person places a hand over their heart and bows in my direction. Once or twice I’ve seen the individual cross themselves, which brings up something interesting for me.
I might have thought that someone who has no home, no money and few worldly possessions would have given up on God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Almost every one of my 92 roadside offerings to date has said to me, “God bless you,” and I can tell that they mean it. God seems very much alive to them and their gratitude is both deep and sincere.
I’m sure that when some drivers approach a person by the side of the road, they might worry about how they’d spend any money given to them.
Personally, I simply don’t care how they spend it. It isn’t any of my business once the money leaves me.
I’m often told by the individual receiving my offering that now they have enough money for food or medicine or a safe place to sleep indoors out of the cold or the heat. I’m not naïve, I realize some of the money might be used for alcohol or drugs, but that is their decision. How could I possibly know what they truly need the most?
As of a certain point, I decided to boost my roadside offering. I now keep a folded $20 bill in the pocket of my car’s driver side door, where it’s handy for me to reach.
Often, when I hold the folded bill out of the window and they take it from me, they automatically say, “thank you, bless you”, then as they start to walk away, they notice it’s not a one or a five-dollar bill, but a twenty. As they turn back to me, their facial expression changes, their eyes twinkle and they take in a big breath and let it out slowly. A few times they’re inspired to say something else to me, like “really, thank you, thank you so much,” or “you’ve made my day,” or “you’re the man!”
Of course, I like hearing this, but what really matters to me and creates a spark in my life, is the connection I feel. That’s the real reason I do this. I want to see and be seen in this world. I want them to know they matter to me, even if it’s just for a moment in time.
And, for some, they clearly want what I want, a point of human contact. Something more than a line of cars passing them by. They want a brief, gentle touch, where they hold my finger, before pulling the bill away and placing it on their pocket. It’s not much, but it’s enough to know we’re here together in this world.
Stay tuned for my next post, which will be Part 2 of 2 of Roadside Treasures.
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