On New Year’s Eve, I drove up to a Seattle traffic light to a man standing on a street corner. He was holding a sign, which I didn’t read. He was wearing clothes, which I noticed were dirty. He was averting his eyes from the eyes that were staring back at him from inside the cars that were lined up at the traffic light.
I rolled down my window and handed him a dollar bill. I said “Happy New Year” and he said “Thanks.”
Do I know what became of that dollar bill? Nope. Does it really matter? Nope. Since that day, I’ve given out a few dollars and some change to other people that I’ve seen on street corners. When I was in high school there was a man who regularly stood on the corner of the street were I would make a U-turn to get to the Dairy Queen before cheerleading practice (true story). Whenever I saw him, I handed him a dollar bill. No matter what time of year, he replied with “Happy New Year.” Sure, that dollar could have added another mixin’ to my blizzard or perhaps a cheeseburger to my order (Yup. You read that correctly…). But instead, I chose to give it to him. The nameless, homeless man who always brightened my day with his greeting. I did this until I graduated and no longer saw him.
I forgot my practice when I left high school (I also forgot the practice of eating cheeseburgers, blizzards and slurpees – thank God). New Year’s Eve reminded me of that.
This isn’t a discussion of politics behind giving someone a dollar when he could be/should be/would be like the rest of us. He isn’t like the rest of us. Something went seriously wrong for him somewhere on his path. Something that could have gone wrong for any of us.
Today, take a minute to think about what you can give back. Your time, a smile, a skill, a dollar? You might change something for someone.