So I went out to Safeway last night and bought a copy (actually two) of the bright pink Woman’s World Magazine. It was the only thing I bought and I got a couple strange looks from the cashier. Anyway, on the back inside cover there is really good article on the Year of Giving and a picture of me in a shirt that looks really green in the photo!
On Day 199 I ventured out looking for a recipient. It was one of those sweltering hot days and I didn’t a bit more get three blocks away and my forehead looked like I had just finished a spicy plate of lamb vindaloo. Speaking of Indian food, which I love, have you heard of the Karma Kitchen? There is one in Berkeley, Chicago and here in DC. The website says, “Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads $0.00 with only this footnote: Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.” Now they don’t do this every day, but I think here in DC it is every Sunday at the Polo India Club (1736 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC). I haven’t been there on a Sunday yet to check it out, but I have exchanged a few emails with one of people behind the idea. Apparently the Year of Giving inspired them to share the stories of their guests and also give $10 away to a stranger every Sunday! Read what Stephanie did with her $10! Very cool. I hope to check it out very soon! Thanks to the folks at Karma Kitchen for believing in kindness of others!
Ok, sorry, I got sidetracked…so as I walked around the corner of a Starbucks I saw a man with what looked to be hundreds of envelopes that he was furiously licking shut. I thought I would go in and meet him and see if he would accept my $10 or even just some help finishing off those envelopes. You can do them pretty fast with a wet napkin or paper towel.
He was a bald pudgy man probably in his late 50s or early 60s. He peered at me through his heavy framed glasses and in a thick accent said he didn’t have time. I started to offer to help him with the envelopes and he barked something else at me that I didn’t understand but in fact I did understand that he didn’t want to continue the conversation. So I left.
I walked around some more. Up to Dupont Circle down Connecticut Avenue. Maybe the guy smoking the pipe on the bench or the man who appeared to be homeless shouting at people walking by or why not mom holding her daughter’s tiny hand waiting for an ice cream? For some reason, none seemed right that night. I ended up strolling through some more residential streets and found Valerie (whose name I have changed her on her request) and Katie sitting on their front patio enjoying the subtle breeze that attempted to counter the thick omnipresent heat and humidity of the first day of July.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, they decided to move to DC and get some work experience. Now they were relaxing on the eve of their last day in the apartment. Katie is moving back to Arizona to attend law school in the fall and Valerie is staying in DC but moving to a new apartment in Georgetown.
When I approached them Valerie was talking about a young guy that works at the Subway near her office. He is from Nepal and “exudes kindness” she says. Every time she goes in she learns a little more about him. Apparently he moved here and wants to go to college but doesn’t have the funds to do so. “I just feel so bad that here is a guy who works so hard and is so nice to people and he can’t afford to get an education.” Oh, and on a totally different note, Valerie highly recommends the new Subway special: an egg-white sandwich with veggies and cheese on whole wheat with a coffee for $2.50.
So at some point Valerie asked if I wanted something to drink. “We’re having watermelon juice and vodka.” That seemed like a strange combination. “We have moved literally everything out of our place. The only thing we have left in there is half a bottle of wine, watermelon juice and a handle of vodka.” A handle? Hadn’t ever heard it called that. Anyway, let’s try this watermelon and vodka, I hope they still have ice! You know what, the drink wasn’t bad either.
They told me a pretty funny story too. Apparently they needed newspaper to pack some of their items so they swiped their landlord’s New York Times off the porch – he lives upstairs from them. “We didn’t think he would miss one day’s paper.” Well, he did. He came down and asked them if they had “borrowed” it. Caught off guard they denied it. As we were talking about this, he and his wife arrived home. He seemed like such a nice man. I think they felt a little bad about it. Maybe they will use the $10 to buy a back issue copy of that day’s paper and send it to him!
Speaking of the $10, I asked them what they were going to do with it. They decided to split the $10 evenly. Valerie said she was going to take her $5 and add her own $10 to it and give it to the young man at Subway to help him with his savings. Katie said that she was going to take the $5 and add her own money to sign Valerie up to take the GRE exam. By the way, I checked and the exam costs $140 so that is really nice gift! That’s ok she said though, “If I had to invest in any person in the world it would be her.”
It was dark and I needed to get home. I thanked them for the hospitality and wished them luck. I actually think I might have seen Katie the next day sitting out on the terrace at the Front Page in Dupont. Still proudly wearing my Brazil shirt on the day that they lost to The Netherlands, I passed a table full of football fans and one of them waived to me. I walked over to the table only to be unsure of who it was. I came up with some awkward things to say I guess and then went on my way. Well, I guess we’ll find out if it was her when she reads this!
Update July 11, 2012: I received a request from the woman I have called Valerie here requesting to change her name and remove photos of them.