Where I'm Supposed To Be
I could have gone to a couple of gatherings at the homes of
friends and family on Boxing Day. I could have stayed home
and curled up with a good book all day. The last thing I
intended to do with a perfectly good stretch of peace and
quiet, was join the throng of post-Christmas shoppers. Yet,
when my husband called and asked me to meet him at the
mall, I went.
Long lines of loud shoppers stood outside most of the stores.
Everyone was noisy and animated. They couldn't get into those
stores fast enough to spend their money. We were surprised by
the number of young people in the mall.
They outnumbered the adults 2 to 1 - easy.
After my husband found what he was looking for, we grabbed
a quick bite to eat in the Food Court. I felt a little
restless and decided to stay behind and do some research
at the book store. I grabbed a pile of reference books,
found myself an empty chair, and started making notes.
Four hours slipped away from me.
Still feeling restless, I decided to use the gift certificate
from the bookstore my daughter had given me for Christmas.
I found a beautiful book called 'The Quiet Little Woman' by
Louisa May Alcott, and picked it up for my granddaughter.
Then I found 'A Memory of Christmas Tea' by Tom Hegg, and
picked that one up for myself. Since both of the books were
Christmas books, they were 50% off. Perfect. My gift
certificate would cover the cost of both of them.
My research was done, my shopping was finished and I was
getting tired. I couldn't shake the odd, aimless feeling
in my gut, but I'd run out of excuses to stay in the
store. Finally, I left.
Since my truck had been sitting out in the cold all
afternoon, I let it warm up for a few minutes before
I put it into gear. While I was sitting there, I noticed
a young boy in the next aisle of the parking lot. He
kept ducking down. I knew he wasn't trying to break into
a car, he was in the middle of the aisle-way. The truck
was parked in the farthest spot from the mall entrance,
which gave me plenty of time to watch him make his way
past the cars and trucks.
It wasn't until he crossed over to the aisle I was
parked in, that I realized he was bending down and
picking up change off the ground. He bent down in
front of my truck, and when he stood up, we made
eye contact. I took him to be around ten-years-old.
In that split second, the contrast between the frenzied
kids on their shopping sprees inside the mall, and the
one lone kid picking up change off the ground outside
the mall, was terribly apparent. The youngster in front
of me was wearing one blue glove and one tan glove. His
coat was about two sizes too small. The zipper was held
in place with a big safety pin. As he walked away from
me, I saw his shoes. They looked like they'd outlived
their usefulness a couple hundred miles ago.
I rolled down my window and called him over. He came,
sort of. He left a good distance between us, standing
hesitantly - poised for flight. I could tell by the
fearful look on his face that he half expected me to
yell and chase him off. My heart hurt.
I asked him if he needed some money. His reply was
instantaneous. "No, no. That's okay."
The parking lot was wet and slushy. I could tell his
feet were cold by the way he kept shifting his weight
from one foot to the other.
"Please," I insisted, holding out a five dollar bill.
"It's not much, but when money is shared, it seems to
go a lot further."
He took a step closer. "Would it be okay if I spend it
at McDonald's?" he asked, hiking his thumb over his
shoulder, in the direction of the fast food restaurant
across the street.
"Sure you can," I answered. "You can spend it wherever you like."
He pulled off one of his gloves and reached for the
money. His small hand was red and chafed. That thinly
knitted glove wasn't keeping his hand warm at all.
"Would you mind taking these off my hands," I asked,
picking up the spare pair of gloves my husband keeps
in the truck. They were old, but they were good warm
gloves. "I bought my husband a new pair for Christmas,
but as long as he's got these ones, those new ones will
sit on the shelf at home and never get used. What do
you say? Will you help me out?"
"Okay," he answered. "I'll help you."
He took the five-dollar bill, stuffed it inside his glove
and put the glove back on his hand. I passed him my
husband's gloves and watched him put them on. A big
smile, the first one I'd seen, spread across his face.
"Thanks! These are great!"
"Glad you like them kiddo," were the only words I could
get past the lump in my throat. The gloves were way too
big for him... and he was so very happy to have them.
Most kids his age wouldn't be caught wearing them, period,
let alone in public.
He looked over his shoulder, towards McDonalds.
"Are you hungry?" I asked.
He looked down at the ground, "Yes."
"Me too!" I said.
He started to pull the glove off. "Do you want your
money back?" he asked, with genuine concern in his voice.
"No, no. I just meant I better get home."
After another big 'thank you', he walked away. I watched
him go. When he got to the road, he turned and waved his
small hand, encased in that great big glove, at me.
I waved back, put the truck in gear and drove away. I
didn't want him to see me cry.
The next time I feel restless and off kilter, unable to
figure out why I'm not doing what 'I' think I should be
doing, I'm not going to analyze it and wonder what the
heck is wrong with me. I know I'll end up exactly where
I'm supposed to be.
CAUTION: always lookout for your own safety when helping strangers.
[ by Terri McPherson, © 2000, (firstname.lastname@example.org) Windsor, Ontario, Canada -- from 'Aiken Drum' ]
All Rights Reserved.