Many people have told me how they were touched by what Alex from Day 109 did with his $10. He was the Georgetown student who took his new-found money to the supermarket and bought supplies to bake cookies with and then passed them out to people that he saw every day but didn’t really know. We all know these people; the receptionist at a doctor’s office, the convenience store employee, the bus driver, your mailman. Well, today’s recipient used to be one of those people to me – a person I saw fairly regularly but never stopped to meet. That all changed on December 3rd.
Today’s recipient wanted to remain anonymous. I’ve agreed to call him “Ilyas” for the purpose of this blog post.
A few times a week I frequent a building here in town that has a variety of very pleasant staff working there, however, Ilyas made an impression on me. He is always neatly dressed and very generous with his smile and kind remarks to people as they walk by.
Now 58, he told me that he was born in Pakistan. He was a businessman there working hard to run a successful business and support his family. In 2000, September to be exact, he had an opportunity to move to the US. He had visited several other times but it seemed to be the right decision to move here given the questionable security in Pakistan at the time.
Fortunately he was able to continue his business from his new location here in the US, but after 9/11, demand slowed down and he made the hard decision to supplement his income with some additional work. I say the decision was hard because Ilyas had never worked for anyone else but himself. He first got a job as a teller at a bank, but he didn’t care much for that. “There was a lot of pressure there,” he said referring to the nature of handling money all day.
He eventually ended up at the building where he now greets me on a regular basis. He’s been there for six years now. I have a special feeling inside me now when I see him. I know more about him. I know his name and how to correctly pronounce it. I know a little bit about his life and his family. He’s a proud father of three girls. And I know that it is not only his smile that is warm and generous but also his heart. He’s kind and gentle and very thoughtful. It’s no wonder that I often see other people stopping to speak with him as well.
After chatting for a while Ilyas placed the ten dollars back on the counter in front of me. “I can’t accept this,” he said showing me the same warm smile that I had become accustomed to seeing. I urged him to keep it and reminded him that he could do anything that he wanted to with it. After a bit more convincing, he decided to keep it and said that he would donate the money.