A toddler sat in the shopping cart, fussy and crying. His mother shushed him gently as she unloaded her items onto the checkout counter while also trying to keep her other son from wandering off. She needed another pair or two of arms, but short of that, she could’ve used some help. Then the store manager, a friendly guy from Jamaica, walked over and said to the little boy, “Are you upset, little man? Do you need some attention?” She mother smiled with her tired eyes and the manager talked with the boy until the mother’s bags were loaded and they were ready to go. “Thank you,” she said, and you just knew that she meant it.
I, too, left the store and on my way home, I encountered my favorite panhandler. Why is Paul my favorite? Because he doesn’t smoke, and he empties the trash cans at the Citgo station to earn a little cash, and he is always exceptionally polite. He exudes a sort of nervous gratitude, like he expects any hand extended in an offer of help to also hurt him, and that breaks my heart. But still he stands there, openly vulnerable, proclaiming what we all know to be true but still sometimes try to pretend is not:
Every. body needs. help some. time.
We are none of us able to move through our lives or our days without it, and yet sometimes we don’t even recognize how much of it we take. So I started listing the gifts of help I have received just this morning. From my husband, by making my coffee. My children, by making their beds. The garbage men, by taking away our trash. The newspaper delivery man, by bringing the news. My favorite postal employee, Ronnye, by posting my mail. The man driving the Lincoln with the vanity license plates, by allowing me merge in front of him with a friendly wave. My father, by calling to say that he loves me. The reader I don’t personally know, by leaving a 5-star review of my novel on Amazon. My BFF, by reminding me to “just tell the story.” That’s a nice list, and it’s not even 9:30 AM.
But I want to make an even better list. Not of all the ways others have helped me, but the ways I can help others. That one I won’t post herein, but will write it down on my own heart and keep adding to it as much as I can. Perhaps you’ll join me?