The Good Deed

I don’t swear (unless you count “Mother Hubbard”, said with exclamation), I give money and gently used clothing to charity, I compliment people when it’s obvious they have just had a haircut, I am faithful to my husband (unless… Eddie Vedder comes a-calling), and I always rinse the sink after brushing.

I am a good person.

I am prone to doing good (and sometimes very good) deeds.

I will give you an example:

The husband and I were in Canada for Christmas to visit our families. On Christmas morning we woke up, opened a few presents with my family, and then got in the car to travel five (long) hours to be with the husband’s family for the remainder of the day. En route to the ferry (yes, we had to take a ferry) we stopped in at the 7-11 for a cup of coffee.

The store was empty, except for the cashier who greeted us with a flat “Merry Christmas”. I looked at his name badge as I walked past. As I filled my coffee cup, I wondered about “Mark G.”: I wondered if he was married. I wondered if he had kids. I wondered if he celebrated Christmas last night, or if he would be celebrating it later, or if he would be celebrating it at all.

An older man, wearing jogging pants and a t-shirt that said “Harvard” walked in. I wondered if he went to Harvard. I wondered if his wife was in the car. I wondered if he was just stopping in for some milk so his wife could make pancakes for breakfast. He went to the cooler and picked out a sandwich and a Mountain Dew. I thought I might cry, because that is not a proper Christmas dinner.

My husband wandered over to the junk food aisle and held up a Coffee Crisp bar. “Eh?” He said, which is so Canadian of him. We had been living in England for three years, where Coffee Crisps were few and far between, usually in care packages from friends, along with Kraft Dinner and Tim Horton’s coffee. I wondered if Harvard ever lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and had a care package sent to him. I thought I was going to cry, again.

A young kid came in. He was probably 16 or 17. He wore a hoodie and baggy jeans (kids today, eh?). He looked sad. But, worse: he looked sad on Christmas Day. I wondered why he was sad. I wondered where his parents were. I wondered why he wasn’t at home in his pajamas watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV. The kid picked up a pack of gum and put it on the counter. I lined up behind him, and then I got that feeling.

I can’t describe it really. It’s just a little nudge. It’s like something occurs to you and you don’t know where it came from, or why, but you don’t want to walk away from it. You want to just do it, and see how it all turns out.

“I got this”, I said to the kid. He looked at me, confused. “I got your gum,” I said to the kid, again. “I got his gum”, I said to Mark G.

I turned to Harvard and said, “I got this too”. Harvard smiled and passed his sandwich and Mountain Dew to Mark G.

“Do you want any taquitos?” Mark G. offered, gesturing to the grill next to him. It was 9:30am.

“I’m good.” And I meant it.

“The taquitos are very good.” Mark G. leaned forward when he said “very”.

“Would you like some taquitos?” I asked. Mark G. nodded.

“Get a couple of taquitos. It’s on me!” I exclaimed, as though they weren’t just small rolled-up tortillas stuffed with chicken. Mark G. took out his tongs and put three taquitos in a foil bag, “for later”.

The kid was smiling. Harvard was smiling. Mark G. was smiling. The husband was smiling. I was smiling. If there had been a campfire, we definitely would have been singing “Kumbaya”, and there would have definitely been some swaying.

“Your total comes to $17.51”, Mark G. said. I handed him my card. As I punched in my PIN, I thought I might cry because that was the best $17.51 I had ever spent.

What is it about paying for someone’s taquitos that made me feel so tingly and warm, and so happy?

I guess it’s true: if you do something good (no matter how small) for humanity, then humanity will be made better… one taquito at a time.

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