my fifty cents

The young man was seated in the sun on the curb outside when he asked “Sir, could I wash your windows for 50 cents?” In a hurry to get my iced tea I said “No, thanks” and walked in the store. The length of the line was consuming my valuable lunch hour until I noticed the disabled woman at the front of the line was 35 cents short. The cashier asked “Well, do you have the 35 cents lady?” Six handfuls of coins reached out from our line to her in sync—everyone wanted to help, not to move the line along faster, but to genuinely help. Humbled but embarrassed by our corporate act of kindness she declined our offers, took her loss and he closed the register, urging her scooter to get along. “Next.” We each waited for our turn at transacting and eventually, my four iced teas came to precisely $4. Change from my $5 bill, I kept the dollar in hand as I exited the store thinking how just minutes before, I’d turned down a 50 cent window wash from a man who wanted to work for it, but gladly forked over four dimes for someone who couldn’t. It was one of those weird serendipity moments of humanity that cost me nothing but a cold iced tea wrapped in a dollar bill to a guy who needed it a lot more than me.
We all learned a lesson at lunchtime that day.