I’ve been pretty busy getting ready to go to Ireland but knew I wanted to give some money away today. I’m not sure what I will do about the hundreds while we are traveling. I’ll definitely put up some photos and blog posts when I can.

While I was taking care of some paperwork at the free clinic, the sun came out! Blue sky and everything. Even with my eyes half closed I would have been able to tell something had changed; there were pedestrians everywhere and they had a spring in their step.

I walked a few blocks and started looking in earnest for my next recipient. There was a guy sitting outside a coffee shop, smoking and reading the paper. Two women inside were sitting on a sofa in front of the window; they followed me with their eyes as I walked back and forth a few times. I watched the garbage waste management truck making its way down the street. At each of a half dozen stops, the lone worker jumped down – then back up into the truck.

A woman was coming toward me. As she got closer I could tell that she was talking loudly into her headset, and I heard a few lines as she swept past: “The only time we have been on time – I mean the only time – was that cruise. That was the only time we were at the right place at the right time. I’m serious.”

It was really lovely out, and I walked down the block. From the corner I could see a young man up the street carrying a toddler in a blanket. I stood and watched them for a while, thinking about David from last week. The young man slowed down, like maybe he was headed into the barber shop. Then I saw a woman waiting at the crosswalk.

She was about my age and was wearing slightly grubby work clothes. I noticed her hands, which looked like they had spent the day hard at work. The light changed and she started to cross the street. I followed.

The bus stop where she was headed was empty. It was a perfect opportunity. “Hi there,” I said. “Hello,” she answered, avoiding my gaze. “It sure is nice to see the sun out for a change!” I offered, hoping to win her over with this observation.

It seemed to work. “Oh, yes,” she answered with a smile. “I’m hoping to get out into my garden but I want the heavy rain to be over first. Otherwise the seeds all wash away.” I asked if she was having a good day and she said she was. She works as a catering cook and was on her way home. “I’ll be back at it early in the morning! It’s good, though. Finally got some jobs. It was getting kinda scary there for a minute.”

I told the woman I had something for her. “It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing.” Then I handed her the hundred dollar bill. “Oh, my goodness!” she said. “You don’t know what this means to me!” I asked what and she said, “Well, it means I can pay a couple of bills I was going to be late on. Heat and electric. My daughter and granddaughter live with me and I always try to keep those up to date.”

“What a wonderful thing to do!” she said. “I definitely will pay it forward, too. That’s my philosophy anyway.” I asked what she meant and she said, “Well, what else are we here for? Just to make a mess and consume stuff? That can’t be right.”


She said her name was Mary and told me a little more about herself, like that she quit smoking a few months ago and just celebrated her 20th anniversary of sobriety. I told her about the blog and she said I could take her picture.

“Look, here’s your bus,” I noticed. “Oh, wow,” she said, looking me right in the eye. She reached out and gave me a big hug. Then she said, “Thank you. You take good care, now.”

What else are we here for? What else, indeed.


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One Response to Mary’s Question

  1. Stepper says:

    First time visitor to your blog – came by way of Project Project. I think this is the greatest idea EVER – and I am so glad you are sharing each $100 story with us.

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