Wednesday, January 5, 2011

giving vs getting

4 : 365 photo for my 365 self-portrait challenge

Today while I was getting an uber unhealthy lunch at Whataburger (seriously why I do I do these things to I have a cold sore & stopped up sinuses?) there was a teeny tiny old lady in front of me. I'd seen her there before with her osteo hunchback keeping her at barely 4 ft tall & her tiny doll-like hands carrying plastic bags and counting out change to pay for her food.

Today she was asking the cashier how much this would be or what if she just got that. Once decided, $2.01 was her total & she dug in her plastic grocery-style bags for her wallet, and then into that for her money. She paid with a $20 bill + a penny. She obviously had the cash on her to buy any combo of food on the menu; however, I imagined that she is on a tight;limited income & obviously had to make that $20 last if she was buying the least expensive option available.

She took a long time to order & pay, and probably had it been anyone else, I would have been impatient about it, getting quietly angrier the more time that passed. But for a little old lady, struggling to still be out in the world, wanting nothing more than a junior sized hamburger for her Tuesday lunch, I suddenly had all the time in the world.

I too only have a set amount I can spend on lunch each day...i.e. $0.00, but some days I ignore this (as well as my dietary restrictions). Not only did I pay for my $5.00 meal, but I decided to buy a gift card and put money on it as well. I debated it in my head as I stood at the cash register ordering. I mean, it wasn't alot in the grand scheme of things, but it was definitely alot more than I was planning to spend on lunch for myself. "Just do it, it's nothing...what will matter more in 5 years, spending this money or doing something kind?" I thought. So I did.

I presented the lady with the card after I got my food. I told her I'd seen her in there before & I wanted to give her alittle gift so that the next few times she comes in, she can get whatever she wants. I worried that I'd offend her. I worried that she wouldn't understand. I worried that the amount wasn't enough. But she was so delighted. Her face lit up and she took the card in her hand and looked at it like it had sparkley ribbons & bows on it, then looked at me, smiling and said "thank you so much." She gave me a big hug, bigger than I would have imagined from this tiny little lady, and I felt tears start to well up in my eyes as we embraced. I wished her a happy new year and tried to exit as quickly as I could before I really started crying in the middle of a crowded dining room.

I don't know why I got so emotional in the moment...crying emotional versus just smiling emotional. I wondered as I walked off who needed what more--her the money or me the hug.



  1. Wow. Perfect. Perfect scene, perfect reactions, perfect story. Wow.

  2. Such a kind gesture and beautifully written.

  3. The portrait challenge appears to be going well--keep up the steam!