Red light (Gift Cards #11-13)
Trip Start Aug 21, 2010
59Trip End Dec 31, 2010
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Now, I know. When most people have a birthday and book a hotel for the weekend, they want to go out to eat. I get that. But in this life, with a hotels and restaurants every night because it's necessary for survival, the opposite dinner plans are most appealing. We planned to take advantage of our Candlewood suite and make dinner one of our two nights. There was a recipe I found a while ago, and I've been wanting to try it out. Eggplant Involtini and Rigatoni. Our van is a little low on eggplants and rigatoni, so I had to pick up a few things.
The light to turn into Market Basket turned red right as I came up to it, so I found myself stopped next to a man holding a sign on the corner. Traveling as much as we do, this is a rather common sight. I don't recall what exactly his sign read. Something to the effect of him having lost his job and is in pretty tight spot. Whatever the case may be, he's found it worthwhile to stand on the curb in a Massachusetts winter and nonverbally ask people for provisions.
I reached back and grabbed a pair of water bottles and then his attention. When I offered the water bottles, he was very appreciative and quickly pocketed them. "Thank you so much! Happy holidays to you!"
Nice. But the light was still red. There was still time. I reached down to our stash of gift cards and quickly ruffled through them. I picked out one each for McDonald's, Subway, and Walmart.
The rest had unceremoniously spilled into my lap. I glanced up to find that the light had just turned green. "Hey man--one more thing." He looked up again and I began to pull forward. And in a half-stop, I explained that each of those cards has about ten bucks on them, and he should enjoy them this holiday season. As my van continued to creep forward, I watched his reaction. He could barely hold onto the three cards, as if I had just dumped a pile of gold coins into his hands. And, judging by the expression on his face, I might as well have. His face showed genuine surprise and awe. "Thank you! Bless you!"
"Take care, man!" I waved back at him as I was now in the middle of the intersection. I rolled up the window again, and cruised into Market Basket.
I just couldn't allow myself to sit at a red light while a man in apparent need stood nearly within arm's reach outside my window. Currently, my wife was enjoying a pampering birthday massage, and I was on a mission to gather ingredients for Eggplant Involtini. It would have been unacceptable if the most I gave the man was some awkward avoidance of eye contact for 23 seconds. You think they haven't seen that trick before?
You spend about 23 seconds at a red light. If there's a homeless person on the corner, it feels longer. But the time still passes, and you'll probably never see the person again. That could be your goal, and you could avoid eye contact for that brief window of time. Or that could be a tiny fraction of your day that you use to make the entirety of someone else's. By the time you're done reading this paragraph...