Thursday, October 6, 2011

Items #16 and #24 . . . Not So Much

"To be prepared is half the victory." --Miguel de Cervantes

Yesterday held lots of promise in the bucket list department.

I was out and about and saw an area that was blocked off. It was white and shiny and just screamed of wet cement. I gracefully pounced over the barricade tape like a cat. (Alright, not really, but it's my blog, so I can say that I was graceful even if I got my foot wrapped in the barricade tape and almost landed face-first in the cement.) I chose a spot in the corner of the square of fresh cement and pressed my left hand down. It was cold, sticky . . . and still just wet enough that my hand got covered in the stuff but left not even a dent in it.


I didn't have anything adequate with which to wipe the sticky goo off my hands . . . except a Justice catalog that Mo had left in the backseat. Therefore, I arrived home with then-dry cement and little bits of Justice catalog all over my hand.

On a related note, Fast Orange is a miracle product, and while I don't work for the company, I do know that it will take cement off of one's hands lickety-split. K-Bye.

Then, I went to get groceries and was prepared to spend at least a couple hundred dollars since a quick glance in our pantry would have revealed peanut butter, reduced fat peanut butter and a bottle of mustard.

As I'm walking the aisles of not-my-usual grocery store, I notice a gentleman. He's thin, in a wheelchair that he guides awkwardly with his free hand. He holds a grocery basket on his lap with the other hand. We're doing that uncomfortable thing that happens at the grocery store, when you keep passing the same person on each aisle. Each time I speak to him, he looks up shyly at me and continues to maneuver his cart around the in-aisle displays. I offer to help him but he politely declines.

I gather the last few items on my list and head to the checkout. He is also getting close to the checkout. His basket is full of individual TV dinners and the cheap cuts of meat.

My total rings up at just over $100, a miracle when I look back on all I had to get. I tell the cashier that I would also like to pay for the gentleman's groceries but I don't want him to know it was me. I'm into that whole mysterious stranger bit. I don't have any cash on me (I rarely do), so I'm paying with a credit card, and he is not yet ready to check out.

I wait a while for him, thinking I'll just leave my card with the cashier and take a stroll through the produce department while he checks out. But he doesn't come and doesn't come, and I have to leave to get the kids. I even go back into the store to return my cart, hoping that he'll be at the checkout and I can slip my card to the cashier. No luck . . .  so I have to leave.

I felt awful. I had prayed that God would reveal someone to me that truly needed help, a gesture that someone cared. This guy seemed to be that person, and I was unprepared to help him.

As I discussed the matter with my friend afterward, she suggested that I could have bought a store gift card and had the cashier give it to him when he checked out. <Palm to forehead> Now why didn't I think of that?! I'll be returning to the same not-my-usual grocery store on Wednesdays in the hopes of spotting that man again.

And next time, I'll be prepared.

Have you ever wanted to do good but were completely unprepared? Share your story.
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