I was rich! I had $4 in my right pocket which I was going to splurge on me, Me, ME. In the other pocket was a crisp $10 which I would give to someone-although I did not yet know who it would be, I was confident I would find the “right” someone who would appreciate a little extra coin.
In Seattle, one of the best Goodwill stores is north of the city itself in a neighborhood called Ballard. And I was off to find treasures for the New Year! After all, weren’t people discarding of the old as they’d just brought in the new from Aunt Gladys and co-worker Andy? And I knew that someone else’s “old” would be a treasure for me. Besides, they were having a sale!
This Goodwill store was all a buzz on the first day of the New Year. The employees were working very hard to dust off and carefully place all of the newly donated items. As I checked the shelves and racks for what I might possibly need, I carefully observed these hard workers. They were fast!
Alas, I’d found a blanket for my doggy and very shabby chic flower vase for $.49, so I was happy. I brought my new treasures to my car and returned to the store to find the tall young man I’d spotted earlier working so hard.
Finally I caught his attention and asked if he could help with my project. Sadly, he was being distracted by fellow staff and – surely – his boss to keep moving. But when I presented the crisp $10 bill and asked if he would take it, his eyes lit up, a huge smile consumed his face and he – admittedly a bit perplexed and under pressure to get back to work – slipped the bill into a pocket.
As employees and fellow shoppers whirled about us, I tried to glean some back ground information about Mohamed A. who is 23 and attending Shoreline Community College. He hopes to graduate with a degree in radiology. But that, he informed me, probably won’t happen until 2012.
He and his family moved to the United States in 2000 from Somalia. Their first home was Phoenix, Arizona but evidently the consensus was that it was much too hot for them. So, about two and a half years ago, they set out for Seattle. I doubt they are often bothered by any extreme heat here in the Emerald City. Perhaps a few days in the summer when it reaches a suffocating 86 degrees, but even that is rare. For many Seattleites, we do not have air conditioning in our homes; it usually doesn’t warrant the investment of an extra appliance – save a western facing bedroom, perhaps. And of course if that is needed, the only place to go is the Ballard Goodwill for a great deal on a gently used window air conditioner.
So here he was, a tall, strong, young man, working hard to ensure the heavier items were set in place. Once again, someone called for Mohamed’s help so I knew I was required to let him return to his work. As I took his photograph, I asked what he thought he might do with his $10.
“Buy lunch!” he gleamed.
And there you have it. On my first day of 2011, I was given the honor of buying a hard-working young student – an immigrant who came to secure a better life – lunch.
What a wonderful day. What a wonderful world.
Best of luck, Mohamed!
-Petra from Seattle, WA