Your Money, Or Your Life.

The parking lot is crowded. It always is; it’s the mall.

But it’s usually not like this. I can tell from the entrance that even the outskirts are being stalked for open spaces.

So what am I doing driving around the front area like a space is going to magically appear in front of me? I have no idea. Wishful thinking, I guess.

I turn into the next aisle of slots. They’re all full, of course; I’m just going to park in the back and hoof it to the doorway. As soon as this lady walking through the middle of the aisle moves.

Oh, no; she’s waving at me, walking toward my car. Is she trying to tell me there’s an open space somewhere? No; I don’t understand what she’s trying to do. And I don’t really want to roll my window down. But she’s headed straight for my car door. Guess I have no choice.

“Don’t worry, I won’t bite,” she says. Guess my face is displaying a weirded out expression to match my brain. Now she’s talking really fast — something about being on this side of town but needing to get home to the north side of town, and walking five miles to the mall. I live on the north side of town. Is she asking for a ride? But I don’t know if I can do that. Is that bad of me? And why did she walk this way? This is west, not north. This is confusing.

“… and I’ve been asking everybody and no one will give me anything but do you have $20 for a bus pass? Please?”

$20? For the bus? Does it really take $20 on the bus to get from one side of town to the other? This story sounds awfully suspicious. But maybe that’s just me. What does that say about me, then? I’m supposed to give people the benefit of the doubt, right? We talk about this at church all the time. So why am I so distrustful of someone who might actually be in need? I mean, what would Jesus do? Did I really just ask myself WWJD?

Crap. I have to do something. I don’t think i could face myself otherwise. I may not know if I really believe her, or even if I should, but hey — I’d rather go without a few bucks for someone who doesn’t need it than without a peaceful soul for someone I know definitely needs it (namely, me). I reach for my wallet. I know I have at least $5 leftover from the weekend.

“I don’t have $20, but I do have $5.” I pull out and hand it to her.

“Oh, thank you! Thank you!” she says as she backs away. I roll up my window and drive on, clearing through the fog in my mind. Was that some kind of test? Did I pass? Does it matter?

I finally parking another aisle or two over. I can see her as I get ready to leave my car, at another driver’s window closer to the mall entrance. Oh well. Good luck to her. I guess it really doesn’t matter after all. I gave at least a little toward what I believe, and I got to keep at least a little of my peace as a result. I’m gonna call it a win for everybody.

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2 thoughts on “Your Money, Or Your Life.

    • It’s true; her story was extremely suspicious in my eyes, especially with its intense flurry of words and explanation. But my first instinct is to reach in and insulate myself from awkward situations, instead of reaching out, even just a little. This time I didn’t want to act in fear of losing out if I gave to someone who didn’t really need it. No one can take from me what I am freely giving to them.

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