“Excuse me, Ma’am,” he said. I looked up from my coffee and writing where I was sitting at a Starbucks. “Do you know any gas stations around here who will take a credit card number without the actual card?”
After pulling out of my writing head, I thought for a moment. “No, I don’t think I do.”
He proceeded to tell me his story. How he had driven down from Northern Michigan, traveled to Illinois for a job interview in IT, left his wallet at the hotel where he was staying and was still 4+ hours from his home and his car’s red, warning light was on.
We tossed around some ideas. Did he know anyone else in the area? Could someone drive down and give him a ride? Had he asked his parents? I even called my auto repair shop friend. She didn’t have any good answer as to how it would even be physically possible to run a credit card with no actual card or ID present.
All signs pointed to him being S.O.L. and miles and miles from home.
He sat down. We continued to talk and share a bit about ourselves. About 27 years old, he was casually, but nicely dressed, had an honest face and clearly looked distressed.
As it was beginning to look like my writing day would be short-lived, I was feeling compelled to just give the nice, young man the money to get home. But he would have to follow me home in order to get it.
It was my $100 emergency money–my “Lucky Hundred”–I keep in reserve for a very special occasion, or just to look at to get me used to seeing those Benjamins regularly–and multiplied. (It’s a money relationship thing.)
I saw no other way. And I genuinely wanted to help him.
He followed me across town, through the countryside to my neighboring village in his older model vehicle. I handed him my Lucky Hundred, we exchanged info then I directed him back to the highway where he could complete his journey home with enough dough to get him there and have some left over for a snack along the way.
I gave a total stranger my Lucky 100.
Five days later I texted him…”When did you send the check, Neal?” No answer.
Two days later I got a text…””Just mailed off your money. I just put cash in a birthday card.”
“I also put a gift card to Red Lobster in there for your trouble. I really appreciate what you did.”
Double “oh, oh.”
My heart sank.
Who sends cash in the mail?! And, it’s easy to feel the outline of a gift card through an envelope–even enclosed within a card.
It’s now been two weeks.
I knew the risks. I told myself, “50/50 chance at best you’ll ever see the money again, Jean…if you’re cool with that.”
I knew all of that. I gave it to him anyway.
I let it go. And now I let go of the probability that I will not see that Lucky Hundred ever again.
But, I also let go of the energy of the money.
Yes, maybe he was an elaborate scam artist–a seasoned actor/scammer. (My husband would agree with that assessment…”You know “Check’s in the mail” is one of the top ten biggest catch phrases of all time.”)
Was I swindled? Maybe.
He got home. I helped someone.
Maybe it was a test. A test to see if I trusted the Universe.
To let go of the money to someone who needed it more than I did, and in so doing believe it would, in some form come back to me–even if not from Neal directly. But the Universe DOES provide and you have to give to receive, right?
“What a fool!”, you might say. And, maybe I am.
But I let “Lucky Hundred” go. Paid it forward, so to speak, so that it can come back. It did him more good that me looking at it admiringly.
And, eventually, I believe it will come back–even if it’s through some other channel.
I choose to believe that the Universe provides.
And Luck follows me wherever I go.