This story is part of the Pay It Forward series.
This weekend, my son and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends. While walking to our car, a man dressed in an old beanie and black carhartt jacket approached me asking for money. He said that him and a friend moved to Portland 2 weeks ago and have been down on their luck and need $8.00 more to get a room at some hostel down the road. I apologized, as I had just used the last of my cash to leave our waitress a tip. Before he walked away I gave him my sons left over mac n’ cheese and some other leftovers from our lunch earlier that day. When I handed the man our bag of food, his hand brushed against mine and I was caught off guard. His hands were ice cold! I looked at his bare hands and found that they were so cold that they were turning purple. I watched the man walk away eating his warm mac n’ cheese and I felt a sadness run through me.
I started driving home and tears filled my eyes because I knew I wanted to do something for the man. I looked in the rearview mirror at my son and realized really how fortunate I am and that I had a pair of gloves in the back of my car. I got off at the next exit and headed back towards the restaurant parking lot. I drove around for 30 minutes to find a working ATM. I took out $20.00 from my checking account then proceeded to drive around the shopping mall parking lot looking for the man. I found him about 10 minutes later standing in front of a Target. As I was driving towards him, I watched him get rejected again by a couple that had just come out of the store. When I finally got close enough, I noticed that the man had tears in his eyes and a look of defeat. I rolled down my window and asked the man to follow me over to an open parking spot. He looked at me like I was crazy, but agreed to follow.
I got out of my car and handed the man the $20.00 and told him to go take a nice hot shower at the place he would be staying in. The man looked at be completely, beside himself, and asked, “Why are you doing this? No one has been nice to me since I’ve been in Portland.” While digging through the back of my car for a set of gloves I keep for emergencies, I told him that he was just dealt a bad hand at the time and that I wanted to help him get back on his feet. I handed him my gloves and told him to stay warm. The man looked at me and started crying and asked what my name was. I told him my name was Hannah. He then said, “Hannah, I will be saying a few extra prayers for you and your son tonight. I appreciate you very much and thank you for your help.” I told him Happy Holidays and thank you.
I started my drive home again with tears in my eyes. I wanted to offer him so much more! If I had a jacket or blanket in the car, I would have given them to him. I hope that he got a room at the hostel that night and was able to find a way back on his feet.
Read all the stories at the blog tag: Pay It Forward Ideas