A man performed a random act of generosity for me today, saving this putrid year from going out in an unmitigated stink. It was a simple experience, but it is this kind of rare moment that allows me to breathe in a life that is too often pressing down on me. I am usually thinking about the state of the economy in general – and in particular how nastily it is impacting on my own peeps; about the pandemic of cancer among women while those in power wage a war on women and our bodies; about the difficulty in distinguishing between Democrats and Repuglicans. I’ll stop there.
Today I went out grocery shopping. I parked in Davis Square (Somerville, MA) to pick up some meat at McKinnons. I keep a roll of quarters in my car for the meters and I took out two. Somehow, though, I clutched the quarters in my hand as I started to cross the street to the grocery shop.
Behind me I heard someone say “She forgot to put money in the meter,” and I stopped in the middle of the street and turned around. There’s a guy who occupies a bench on that street pretty regularly. He is homeless and he quietly holds out an empty paper cup in case anyone wants to help him out. He had jumped up and I watched him dig a quarter out of his cup and start to put it in my meter.
I rushed back and tossed both of my quarters in, instead, thanking him almost inarticulately for his bigheartedness. As I set out again for the store, he said, “Look, they come around constantly, so I try to keep my eye on these two meters here, ‘cause I sit right here and I can help. If the meter runs out while you’re shopping, I’ll take care of it. ”
When I returned to my car with my bag, I pressed a couple of bills in his hand and wished him a warm and safe New Year. He didn’t have to make a sweet gesture to a stranger, but it is my experience in life that those who don’t have share, and those that do have try to get some more. In my mind he (and the Occupy movement, of course) has single-handedly rescued the reputation of 2011.