I just might not make it, and that’s the truth.

I started the day with five hundreds left to give before the end of the year. It’s going to be tough, as I am working tomorrow as well as all day Saturday. The reality, along with panic, started to set in. I don’t know what comes next. This is something I have been afraid to think about too much.

I went to the bank for my last supply of hundreds. It’s a small bank and it’s always the same teller or two each time. Do they wonder what I do with all those hundred dollar bills? If so, they are very discreet about it.

There were a couple of things I wanted to get from the store. I’ve come to rely on Fred Meyer as a great place to give away money, so that’s where I headed. I thought about just giving out all the bills one after the other and being done with it. Kind of like what this guy in the UK did recently. (Thanks to Olivia for sending me the link to this story!)

That’s really not my style, though. I like to engage and connect. I want to look the recipient in the eye and witness their surprise. Maybe it’s selfish of me – but that’s how it is.

On the way into the parking lot I saw Marty. I’ve seen him a number of times, and he’s been in a wheelchair lately. Today he was walking, slowly pushing a shopping cart. I watched as he gingerly stepped over a puddle.

There were lots of people in the store and the line at customer service was long. I got my stuff and put it in the car. I was having trouble concentrating and needed to give my undivided attention to the task.

So many people, and I found a reason to pass them all by. “Maybe I’m done already?” I wondered. I took a walk out to the bottle return area and tried to strike up a conversation with a guy there, but he wasn’t interested and I wandered off.

Back in the store, I saw a young man in the checkout line whom I had noticed earlier. He had a beautiful face and long dark hair. In front of him on the belt was a collection of cleaning supplies. He was smiling and talking with the cashier, then he stuffed everything into his messenger bag.

I hung about nonchalantly near the checkout area. When the guy was done paying he headed for the door. I decided to follow him. I saw him reach into his pocket then put headphones into his ears. He pulled his hood up. I assumed he had a bike parked outside but he walked right past the bike rack and took off across the parking lot. Fast.

I caught up with him. “Excuse me!” He stopped and looked at me. “”Hi,” I said. “Hello,” was his puzzled response. “So, it turns out this is kind of a lucky day for you!” I announced. He was skeptical. “Oh, really? Why is that?”

“I have a gift for you.” “And what is that?” he asked.

“It’s this.” I took out the hundred and put it in his hand. He looked at the bill, turning it over a few times. “It’s real,” I assured him.

I sensed he was normally pretty articulate but for a minute he was stammering. “I…I…ahhh…ummm…thank you??”

I laughed and said he was welcome. “Why?” he asked.  I said something about my mom. “Wow, that’s really generous of you,” he said. He shook out his hand. “I’m Gandino.”

I told him about Hundreds of Hundreds and how I’ve been giving away C-notes since last October. He listened intently. “It’s my way of trying to make the world a little smaller,” I said. He understood, and nodded.

He said he decided to take a walk today and visit the store where some friends work. His friend was working the check stand today. “So I was in his line, making small talk.”

We made some small talk of our own. I found out he’s from California originally and works for Fred Meyer at one of their offices. He asked if I had always lived in Portland and we talked about New York. He likes it but really appreciates all the green we have here in the Northwest.

Then we said goodbye. He shook my hand again and said thanks. He held up the bill with a big smile. “I’m meeting up with a friend in a couple of hours. Maybe instead of sitting around my house we’ll go out and do something!”

That’s probably where he is, right now. I hope so.





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4 Responses to Small Talk

  1. Olivia says:

    All the best for the final few hundreds!

  2. Carol says:

    I have been following your stories and in response I now have in my car ziplock baggies filled with non-perishable foods (tuna salad and crackers, Vienna sausages, cookies, cheese crackers, things like that that I get at the Dollar Store). When I see someone on the corner with a sign that says they need help or are hungry, I hand them a bag. The response is so heartwarming, I sometimes will drive around the block just so I can get to the corner where someone is standing. Thank you for modeling how we all have something we can give.

    • Jill Ginsberg says:

      Letting people know they are not invisible seems to be the greatest gift of all. Thank you, Carol, for taking these stories to heart!

  3. SkippyMom says:

    I can’t afford the hundreds, wish I could – but I just love Carol’s idea. After a year of reading your blog I am glad I have stumbled upon something I can do too.

    Thank you both! 🙂

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