This past week I traveled with my immediate family, celebrated my birthday and got to see some older relatives. A lot happened and the trip was an amazing experience. It definitely fit my “no apologies, no regrets” mantra.
The best experience wasn’t hours long though nor did it consist of sitting on white-sand beaches. It wasn’t even my birthday celebration or the hilarious jokes that a family of 5 boys naturally produces. The best one took 15 minutes and reminded me of my core beliefs.
On Friday night (my birthday) we drove from Myrtle Beach, SC to Destin, FL. We stopped for gas near Jacksonville. As I walked inside, a car with the hood raised honked from an unlit corner of the parking lot. I turned but didn’t see anyone so I continued inside. When I came back out I saw my father walking towards the car. Naturally I followed to check it out.
I’m glad I did. The car had overheated and wouldn’t start. The man driving was disabled. He was a double amputee (both legs) and was missing 2 fingers on each hand. He used a light switch as the ignition along with other modifications. He obviously needed help.
After 10 minutes of filling the car with water we were able to cool it down and get it started. The man was thrilled! Next came the question that everyone dreads: “Excuse me sir, do you have any money that you can spare?” Normally this is a no brainer. I walk away with all my money muttering that the person doesn’t need any more drugs or alcohol…..not this time.
I felt for this guy. He wasn’t looking for a handout. He wasn’t begging on the street corner. He needed a little help. You can’t pretend to be an amputee. The look in his eye told me to help him. After giving him $20, that look turned to one of pure exhilaration and gratitude. He kept thanking me and my dad in between toothless smiles.
Afterwards I reflected on the experience. I have no idea if the man was homeless. I don’t know what the money will be used for. Honestly, I could’ve been completely tricked by some complex scam. I really don’t care though.
I’m not sharing this story to brag or seek compliments. In the grand scheme of things, $20 is nothing. What I learned is priceless though. My hope is to share the lesson with as many people as possible.
I’m very fortunate. I’m not rich but I’m also not homeless or poor. If there’s a chance that I was able to help this man than it was worth it. When we have the opportunity, we should do everything we can to help others. Act like we would want if we were the one in need.
No act of kindness is too small. Show appreciation for any blessing you have by passing some along to others. I will never forget those 15 minutes. Next time I hear that dreaded question, I expect my answer will be different. Time will tell.
If we take this to heart and help others when we can, the possibilities are scary. Do you have the courage to act selflessly? Prove it.