When you’re looking for the right person to give $100 to, things look different – and everything is more memorable. I could hardly concentrate in exercise class this morning because I was so distracted by the ankles of the woman in front of me, each of which was tattooed with a very large skull and crossbones.

I saw a man rush into the open bay of an auto body shop with a large bouquet of flowers. That was interesting. Lots of little kids doing weird kid things like riding their tiny bicycles around in circles on the sidewalk. I came up behind a woman limping painfully along on bad knees. She was talking on her cellphone and I heard her say, “I don’t have much but I like to help out when I can.”

My eyes were scanning as I was on my way to the library. A woman and pre-teenish boy came out the library door and turned the corner. The boy was carrying a large bag full of books, swinging it in a mildly aggressive way. He had a hard look in his eyes, like maybe he was having a bad day. Like maybe he wanted to stop at McDonald’s and his mom said no, it’s almost dinner time. I hoped it wasn’t worse than that. The woman seemed just a little too old, but I figured she must be his mother. Suddenly I really wanted the boy to see something nice happen to her. I followed them down the street and caught up with them at their minivan.

“Excuse me!” I started off.  The boy got into the van and closed the door. His mom turned to me with a questioning look and I launched into my little spiel, warning her what I was going to say might sound a little strange. I told her what I was doing and why. “Yes,” she said. “That does sound odd.” When I handed her the bill she protested: “Oh, no! You can’t give me that!” She tried to push the bill back into my hand and I stopped her. “It’s a gift. You can do whatever you want with it.” She looked puzzled for just a split second, then she got it. “Oh! I’ll pass it on! We’re fine. We don’t need it. But I’ll pass it on to someone who does.” Then she said, “Your mother must be proud of you. Thank you,” and she gave me a big hug.

I saw the boy watching us with practiced nonchalance from the front seat of the van. As the woman climbed in I turned and went on my way.

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10 Responses to I’ll Pass It On

  1. Susan Bolton says:

    I’ve been wondering when/if someone would not want to accept the gift. It’s nice how you offer it as a gift in memory of your Mother… Don’t you wonder if it’s in someone else’s blog… “today someone gave me $100.”!

  2. Carrie says:

    I love how you thought of how that boy needed to SEE goodness displayed! So many people see so much negativity and deal with so much disappointment, pain, and hurt. It’s great that you thought about that and made sure that he SAW some goodness. Another great day, Aunt Jill! Good luck with tomorrow! 🙂

  3. Ann says:

    Jill – love following this -and i’ve shared your blog with friends too – amazing response.

    thanks for sharing.

  4. Betsy says:

    First, this is a terrific project. Thank you for including me as a witness to it.

    Second, I have a story to share which is tangential, but I, too, appreciated your thought that the boy needed to see kindness extended to his mother (not how you put it, but a related aspect that occurred to me).

    I once saw a mother abusing her child – a girl, maybe two, looking bright and curious but subdued — in a grocery store. What to do? I did not want to embarrass the mother or elicit further punishment for the child. I was also scared to do anything at all but not doing anything was intolerable to me.

    I sped over and began to admire the child. I spoke to the mother about the child, telling her what a delightful looking girl she was, how it looked like she was so interested in everything and eager to learn, how it must be so great to be the mother to this wonderful girl.

    My intention was — at a minimum — to interrupt the action in a way that would not worsen both of their lives. As it turned out, my intervention did more, at least for that moment. The mother softened, her eyes glistened, she thanked me (!), her daughter’s expression opened. I realized later that no matter what else, it was good for the child to hear different information about herself than she had been receiving.

  5. Timea says:

    You have to write this up in an even more formal context, Jill! You HAVE to. XXX T

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