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08 December 2009 @ 02:18 pm
Christmas spirit  
I just received a text message from a number I didn't recognize, a "Merry Christmas and God Bless" sort of message, that had me sort of scratching my head and wondering if it was a wrong number, and then a second came through that explained everything.

Back in the end of October, while Mark was gone hunting, I hired a guy to finish spreading the pitiful remains of the barkdust we'd ordered over the summer, which Mark had never had time to finish.

I found him standing at the entrance of our local grocery store, holding a sign so that it covered his face, which said "Need $143 to pay rent, will work for $$, please help."

Now, I don't often stop and give money in these situations. Occcasionally, I'll see someone who gives me a "feeling", a gut intuition that they are genuinely in need. That's when I stop. This was one of those times. I was cash poor at that moment, but managed to put together 4 crumpled $1 bills from the depths of my purse. This guy was young, younger than me, and so grateful, he got tears in his eyes. I thought about that the entire way home. I thought about it so much, and had such a strong feeling to help this guy, that I decided to go back and give him $50 towards his goal. I had never given such a large sum to a person standing on a corner with a sign, ever. But once I decided to do it, I felt like it was the right thing to do.

So I went back. In the half hour or so I'd been gone, he'd scratched out $143, and written $123. Clearly, a few others had stopped to be generous. When i waved him over, and started to hold out the $50, he stopped me and said "Ma'am, I would be more than happy to work for the money, if you have any yardwork or anything you might need done." There was a look on his face of such misery. Being given that money was eating at his self worth.

I had to think about it for a minute. Mark was gone hunting. I was a woman alone, and he was a stranger. Obviously, I wasn't letting him in the car with me, but...the feeling that I needed to help was still very strong.

I asked him if he was busy the next day, Saturday, and he said no, with hope brightening his eyes. I told him I'd pay him $100 if he came to my house and spread that barkdust, and he jumped on that, thanking me effusively, and tripping over giving me his phone number so we could work out the details. After I left, I asked myself what I was doing. Mark would be angry to find out I'd put myself in a potentially dangerous situation, even to help someone else. I told myself not to worry; I'd make sure a friend came over and stayed the afternoon he was going to be there. The $100 would make us tight for a short time, but with Mark gone for the week, I wasn't spending much on goceries, anyway.

Saturday came, I called him, and arranged to meet. When I picked him up, he told me he'd left the gorcery store right after speaking with me, trusting I would keep my word and call him. That was the first time he'd ever had to do anything like that, and he was embarrassed and humiliated, and praying the entire time that no one he knew would see him there with his hand out. He'd been working construction under the table, and when he got laid off two months ago, he didn't have the recourse of unemployment. His girlfriend's paychecks barely put food on the table, and didn't begin to cover rent. The first month, he sold his motorcycle, and the next, everything else he owned of value, all while looking for work. He signed up with every temp agency in town, but the soonest they had anything for him was a grass seed job at the end of November. If he couldn't pay November's rent, he and his girlfriend would be evicted, with no place to go.

When he saw the pitiful pile of barkdust, he looked surprised and dismayed. "This is it?" he asked. Well, yes. It had been the only thing I could think of, spur of the moment. He kind of looked around, and said "Well, I could clean your gutters, maybe." He did not feel that little pile of barkdust was worth what I was paying him. He was right, but that wasn't the point for me, anyway. Still, I didn't want him feeling any worse than he already did. "You could pull some weeds," I offered, and so he did. He worked for a little over three hours, and I paid him $100 and drove him home. His apartment, what little I glimpsed as i dropped him off, looked painstakingly neat and clean, and threadbare, but lived in. He told me on the way home that he couldn't thank me enough, that he truly believed God had led me to him. I wished I could do more, and gave him the name and number of a friend working construction. Maybe they'd need an extra hand for work sometime.

When he shook my hand and said good-bye, he looked at me and said "I will never forget that the name of the lady who helped me out when I needed it most was Charity. That's got to mean something." I smiled, and told him I felt like something, or someone had directed me to help him, too. Then I left, and hoped he'd be able to pull together the other $23 for rent. I couldn't offer it, when he clearly already felt I was paying him too much. When I tried to give him some coffee, or something to eat, he told me, very politely and a little coolly, that he'd already eaten, thank you. He didn't want charity (excuse the pun.)

Well, that merry christmas text was from him (and his girlfriend). Apparently he is working that grass seed job, and he wanted to wish me a merry christmas, because christmas wouldn't be happening for them without what I'd done. I sent back a reply, telling him i was really happy to hear that things had gotten a bit better. I know the job is seasonal, and therefore temporary, so I also hope something else will come along before it ends. He seemed like a genuinely nice young man who didn't have any family or friends here to turn to. I'm glad they got to keep a roof over their heads.
 
 
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Nuquiet_rebel on December 8th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
Now that is the Christmas spirit. Thanks for sharing.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I wasn't going, actually. I mean, it happened over a month ago. But then he sent me that text, and it just made me so glad that he's doing okay, especially for the holidays.
Patron Saint of Pessimismwoodrunner on December 8th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Aw, that brought tears to my eyes.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Mine, too!
The Teasemastertinylegacies on December 8th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Awwww this made me tear up reading it.

You are such a good person for helping out someone genuinely in need.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
It was one of those moments when I really believe a higher power was saying "you need to do this", and I just happened to listen.
Ambassador of  Awesomeamphetamine_47 on December 8th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
That is BEAUTIFUL. *HUGS* to all ya'll!
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
{{HUGS}}!
shellyinseattleshellyinseattle on December 8th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
What a heart-warming story. Truly full of good cheer.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it made my day, getting that text. I hadn't realized how much I'd wondered and worried if he was okay, after that.
Queen of the Skiesqueenoftheskies on December 8th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
OMG, what a beautiful, wonderful story. I'm so glad things are getting better for him. Thank you for helping him. And thank you for the times you've helped me.

::HUGS::

You're one of the good guys. :)
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I try to be. I don't think I always succeed, but I try. {{HUGS}}
Stephstephdub on December 8th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
You are a wonderful person. Your story made me tear up. I'm glad that you know that you made such a difference for him.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad he texted me, and let me know.

(On a totally different note - is S8 of Spooks done airing yet? I'm sorta waiting cause I want to see it all at once!)
(no subject) - stephdub on December 10th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
marbleslab on December 9th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
That is, quite seriously, the loveliest thing I've heard in quite some time. Merry Christmas to you, indeed.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! {{HUGS}}
soundingseasoundingsea on December 9th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
That's a wonderful thing you did. :)
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
I was really glad I was able to. :)
Miss Crankypants: Farscape Crichton Heroaka_paloma on December 9th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
Awwww, Rhien. I'm crying here. Seriously. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. You are a hero for this, you know that? A true freakin' hero.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't know about that. But I am glad I went to the grocery store when I did. :)
eretria: Delenneretria on December 9th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
You should give this to a paper as a Christmas story. That is beautiful, and you're a wonderful person for doing this. I'm particularly impressed that you did this in these times. And, as corny as this sounds, what you did is a little bit of God's light between us.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
I don't know; I think he might not want to see himself in the paper, you know? I wasn't even going to post it on LJ, but then he sent me that Christmas text and I got all sniffly about it.

And corny or not, I feel very much that God was involved. :)
annete: Eldest Sisteranneten on December 9th, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
Your story made me cry at work! (In a good way!)

You are a saint for helping out this young gentleman. Bless you and Mark and your family!
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you sweetie. Merry Christmas! :)
Perverse and Often Bafflingwhiskeypants on December 9th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
That's a wonderful story.

And as a fellow recipient of your generosity, I can only say that you totally rock. I'm glad that guy knows it too.
rhienellethrhienelleth on December 9th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you. All these comments make me feel like I should go back and post a disclaimer, something "Really, I am not all that! I can be selfish and judgmental and all those other things, honest." But I'm resisting the urge, and just saying thank you, and Merry Christmas. :)


Gwen Cooperalien_catcher on December 9th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful story and experience, thank you for sharing it. &hearts
(Anonymous) on December 9th, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
From your good friend Paula
I read this out loud to some of my co-workers today after I read it. It made me choke up and tears rolled as I read it as I am so proud of you and on a selfish note I am so glad to be one of your friends.

The key is your gut feel about the judgment of the person and your safety. It is wonderful when one can do things like this with a happy ending.

We need more people like you in this world.