Was this ridiculous, yet hilarious, "beach read" worth my morning's wages? Hardly, but it was beginning to look like I would be spending $40 in cash to borrow a library book. For some equally ridiculous, yet not hilarious reason, I had chosen to slip the twice folded 20's under the rolled down waistband of my athletic shorts. Apparently, I then leaped around the library property with such enthusiasm for reading that they had become dislodged somewhere.
Smelling like french fries and sticky with snow cone flavoring that, no doubt, speckled my t-shirt, I combed the library next. After retracing my steps, I approached the help desk a bit wound up. Forty dollars was a small fortune to me and I had essentially allowed it to fly away after all morning at the swim club. I am certain many midday library eyes were on me, my voice wavering with emotion as I presented my plight.
Two library patrons, perhaps a middle aged daughter and her mother, sweetly and positively suggested I try the parking lot again. Afterall, it was a breezy summer day, a rarity with the humidity we often have. Perhaps the bills had blown into the bushes that ran along the road. Weaving through a small group of children, I hustled back outside.
Just as I had given up, resigning myself to the fact that my foolishness would not pay off, I looked up to hear one of the ladies from the information desk call to me, "Sweetheart! Over here! We found your money next to our car. It must have blown this way."
I quickly jogged over sputtering something similar to, "What? You did?!? Oh my goodness, I can't believe it."
The younger woman handed me two twenty dollar bills neatly folded twice together just as I had described them and arranged them earlier myself. I took the tiny treasure with both hands, my book and keys now under my arm.
"Thank you SO much. What a relief! I just can't believe it. This is so great. Thanks again! Take care!"
Racing back to my car without waiting for their response, I placed the money in the cup holder and headed home. Once there, I removed my wallet from the glove compartment and unfolded the precious 20's to finally set them secure.
I froze. These were freshly minted bills, printed with the new design. Jackson's now-extra-large chiseled face glared at me.
I knew my boss had handed me "old" 20's from the register; 20's that were well worn, and featured the president's bust like a cameo, small and neat within the oval. Instantly humbled, I began to process that the cash had come from their own pockets. They had played it off as a serendipitous discovery to save my pride.
I have told everyone I can about the kindness of these women. Nearly 15 years later I still feel overwhelmed. Perhaps, to them, the money was just a drop in the bucket; a simple gesture to relieve the malaise of my immature missteps. But to me it was much more. It was a life lesson in love. They taught me that just a bit of in-the-moment, conscious care can fill someone right up.
|remember these? I certainly did that day. I lost two of 'em.|
|my fortuitous forty was in two of these babies.|