The 30ish man sat on the grass next to the little pantry. Beside him was a box of Pop-Tarts that he had removed from it. As I walked up I couldn’t help but notice how dejected he seemed. A worn backpack sat to his right. Something about him radiated either loss or being at the end of his rope.
I put my unneeded jacket in the car. I remembered that I had an emergency $20 bill folded below my driver’s license. Removing it, I walked over to him and said, “Not that you need it, but this is for you and Merry Christmas.”
He looked up at me and at the $20 bill I extended to him. I can’t be sure what went through his mind but I saw it on his face. The $20 might as well have been a thousand and he was incredulous that someone was just giving him money. I’m not going to lie, but I felt this overwhelming urge to tear up.
“Merry Christmas to you too! God bless you.” He didn’t smile but his face registered a type of relief that I hate to see on someone else’s face.
“God bless you too,” I told him as I smiled and walked away.
I don’t write about these moments to make myself feel or look better. The moment already elevated me and gave me a boost that I didn’t even know I needed.
I hope the man remembers that life is sometimes good and surprising. I know I do. I wish I had a thousand to give him, no matter what he might do with it.