I know I’ve said this before, but I don’t think it can be said too often: you just never know what’s going to happen when you step your foot out the door (or stay in, for that matter).
We got home from Ireland late Thursday night and I’m still trying to claw my way out of a jet-lagged stupor. I understand that it is in poor taste to complain about this (and most of the things I complain about) but I can’t seem to stop myself.
My vacation isn’t officially over until Wednesday, but I decided to go to my office for a couple of hours to catch up on anything urgent. It was REAL quiet.
I finished up and was driving home, taking note of the fact that the streets were pretty much deserted. It even looked like the Lloyd Center mall was closed. Possible? As I passed the Dollar Tree, I thought I caught a glimpse of Tyrone in his green shirt. I haven’t seen him since just before Thanksgiving but have thought about him frequently.
I pulled into a parking space across the street. Tyrone didn’t see me walk in; he was talking to a guy by the door, making a joke about the bags of chips he had bought. Then he turned and saw me. He just looked at me for what seemed like a long time, then he wordlessly held out his arms. We grabbed each other in a big hug.
We had a lot to catch up on and talked for about 10 minutes. He told me he framed the blog post and it’s hanging up in his apartment. He’s doing really well and feels good about himself and his future. He invited me to an event celebrating some important changes he made in his life two years ago. I’m really honored and am planning to be there. I had my camera with me and he said I could take another picture of him.
We said our goodbyes and I walked around the store. A little girl in a shopping cart waved at me and I waved back. Then she started blowing me kiss after kiss. I stood at the end of the aisle and we blew kisses to each other while her parents looked at something on the shelf, totally oblivious to the love fest that was going on. Eventually the girl tired of the game and I moved on.
There was a rather distinguished-looking gent standing in the toy aisle, studying the row after row of little plastic gizmos. I made a comment to him about having a lot to choose from and he chuckled. “I’m buying for my friend’s grandchildren. It’s the action figures they like.” He said there are four kids between three and eight years old and we chatted a bit about the kinds of stuff they play with. Then I saw this:
It’s hard to tell in the picture, but these are GIANT $100 bills. I took them off the rack, laughing about how you could buy 50 $100 bills (and such big ones!) for just a dollar! The man laughed, agreeing that it was a really good deal. Then he said, “How about real ones? You have any of those in your pocket?”
“Yeah, actually I do have one in my pocket,” I said. “Really. Wow. Well. Good for you,” he said, with a smile. “Except, I’m going to give it to you, ” I told him. “What? Really? Is this because I only get $469 a month in Social Security?” “No, I didn’t know anything about that!” I said. “Here you go.” I held out the bill and he slipped it into his pocket, shaking his head. “Wow. I can really use this. Thank you! Really??” He shook his head some more. “This is really something.”
In the next few minutes, he shared a lot with me. His name is Chuck and he used to be a semi-pro ice skater. He worked as a sign maker for years until medical problems caused him to retire. He’s never had a lot of money but has always generously given his time and attention to those who needed it. His wife, who had been shopping in another part of the store, came by with their cart. She showed him a few books she had picked out, then turned down the aisle again.
Saying goodbye, I stuck my hand out. Instead of taking it he gave me a big hug. I took this picture of him with the pack of giant bills.
I went to the cashier and she rang up my purchase. “I’m gonna take these home,” I said, “And put them in my printer and shrink them up a bit. Then I’ll have lots of money! Good idea, right?” She smiled at me. “You’re trippin’!” she said. “Yeah, I guess I am trippin’,” I had to agree. I gave her my dollar and she took it with another smile. “You keep that party going!” she said.
I grinned all the way to the car.
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