I wasn’t intending to give my most recent gift in a fast food restroom. But that’s how it worked out. Well, almost.

It’s spring break for college kids, so Elijah has the week off and arrived home with a friend on Friday night. We had made plans to spend a few days in Vancouver, which is one of our favorite places in the world.

Yesterday the four of us headed off for the six hour journey. It’s not a bad trip, really. Louise and I had our old-lady music at the ready (a mixture of Adele, Barbra Streisand, and Lady Gaga) and the kids both had their iPods and headphones.

When we stopped for lunch at the Centralia Burgerville I thought about my weekly gift. I had been working all day Saturday on another writing project and hadn’t gotten to it. Maybe, I had thought, I’d find someone at a rest stop who was traveling.

While we waited for our food I made a trip to the restroom. I was standing at the sink washing my hands when I heard someone come out of one of the stalls. I was looking down so didn’t see her step up to the sink next to me, but for some reason I thought it was Louise or Elijah’s friend, Mimi.

“Hey,” I said, without looking up. “Hi,” said an unfamiliar voice.

I looked up at the mirror and a pair of fiercely blue eyes met mine. Then I saw the cap.

She said she got her sparkling blue eyes from her mom

“You work here?” I asked. She said she did. The she asked if I came in a lot. “No, just passing through,” I admitted. “How is it as a place to work?” Always on the lookout for injustice, I was ready to set up a picket line outside (or, at least, not ever come back) if she gave a negative report.

“It’s great!” she said. “And the food’s really good, too. Everything’s so fresh. It’s so much better than McDonald’s!”

I found her loyalty and enthusiasm moving and realized she could be the perfect recipient for the hundred waiting in my pocket. “You have kids?” I somehow needed to know. She said yes, she has a three-month old baby. “I worked straight into my eighth month of pregnancy! I’m going to school, too.”

I followed her out of the bathroom (maybe a little too eagerly) as she headed back to work. “Just a minute!”

She stopped just outside the door and looked at me. “I want to give you something,” I said, digging in my pocket. I pulled out the hundred. “This is for you.”

She took it but just stared at me. “No…” she started to say.”It’s okay!” I jumped in. “No strings attached!”

I explained very briefly about what I was doing and she just looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes. “I don’t know what to say,” she finally got out. “You’re like an angel. This is amazing. Can I give you a hug?”

We talked for a few more minutes and she let me snap her photo. She said her name was Brittany and she would probably use the money for gas. I told her about the blog. When we arrived at our destination I found a message in my inbox waiting for me.

Dear Jill:
I met you today at Burgerville and the minute I got home from work I had to check out your blog. I just wanted to thank you again and tell you what your doing is amazing! The $100 you gave me was a god send. I am a single mother and that money you gave me helped me out alot. Not everyone gets a chance to meet someone as generous and amazing as you and I thank god I had the chance to meet you. (even if it was in a bathroom lol). God Bless you! and thank you!

Thank you, Brittany! Burgerville is lucky to have you. And so is that little baby of yours.

Brittany

 

 

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3 Responses to On the Road

  1. DJan says:

    How sweet! And you’re right about those amazing blue eyes. She was in the right place to be the next recipient of your project. I so enjoy reading these little vignettes of the lives of people I would never come across otherwise.

  2. Penny Viglione says:

    Well,Jill,it was Mimi (the one with you on your trip) who directed me to your blog.All I can say is it answers alot of questions I had about you all.Or as we say in NC,ya’ll.It is the most wonderful feeling in the world to do what you do. I have done it (not to the same degree) but have gotten such a tremendous feeling from it myself.As I read your story I was reminded of a road trip Mimi and I were taking from the airport to home on Christmas Day. We stopped at a convenience store/gas station for air in a very low tire.I hadn’t had experience doing this and had to ask the young woman behind the counter to help me.She left the store and small child who clearly was hers (maybe age 6) playing and came outside to assist in my tire pumping.When she was done she rushed back inside to attend to the waiting line of customers.I followed her back in and handed her a $20 bill and said thanks.You would’ve thought I’d give her a wallet of hundreds.She didn’t want to take it,but I just rushed out the door.I had such a funny elated feeling from that experience.I wish I did that every day.I really believe that paying it forward is what the real plan is.You are a single examlpe of that.And your kindness leaves me speechless.Thank you for your gracious generosity.The world is a better place because of it and you.

  3. j. kathleen says:

    Jill,

    I would so LOVE to see a large, coffee-table, style book, that featured the photograph’s of amazing faces and other expressive shots, that you’ve captured, along w/the their stories. Is it in the works? I hope so. Brittany’s exuberant photo zinged right into my heart–
    Thank you.

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