Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Lucky Day: Anything Will Help

Phony as a two dollar bill?
There is one on each side of the crosswalk, at the stoplight waiting for the cars to stop so they can ply their faces of pity on the hapless, unwary drivers forced to stop for the red. Scraggly, beaten, weathered, wrinkled faces beyond their years, seasoned, soiled, wretched, their sparkling eyes the only sign of life, of humanity left in them.

The one on my side holds up a dirty, cardboard sign reading "Anything will help." I stop 3 or 4 cars back. Traffic is heavy. Maybe I'll slide through when the light changes. Maybe not. My luck the light will turn red again when I get to it. I begin to rehearse my litany of excuses, of rationales for being stingy, but I know I have some loose one-dollar bills in my wallet.

I begin to stress. The light changes to green and I edge closer to him. The light turns red again! I am right next to him. He catches my eyes and smiles at me. I decide. I reach into my wallet and without looking pull out a single bill, open the door slightly and hand it to him, slamming the door shut and locking it.

He stares at the bill, and an immense smile grips his face. He holds up the bill, excitedly pointing at it and mouthing "thank you's" to me. I look. Oh shit! I have mistakenly given him my lucky $2 bill, the one I have carried at the back of my wallet for years!!

I am torn between utter regret and sharing in the man's exhilaration. I choose the latter. We both cheer as I drive off.