Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Day’

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

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The first day of a new year.  There are probably so many interesting angles to examine on the first day of the year.  What does this year have in store for us?  Will the economy improve?  Is there peace in the future for Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, etc.?  Will world leaders make climate change a top priority of their administration?  Will Bill Cowher accept a job to return to coaching in the NFL?  (ok, that one is not probably on the minds of so many people, but I personally vote that he come to Washington and coach the Redskins!)

It’s an odd feeling on the first day of a new year.  It’s like the first day of a new job or the first day of high school.  You don’t feel any different, but things are somehow different.  For me, the biggest thing I notice when a year comes and goes is that I keep writing the old year by mistake on forms, checks, etc.  

That awkward feeling could perhaps describe the interaction that I had with today’s recipient.  I got a late start today.  I recovered from my evening of celebration and tried to get my condo cleaned up.  I decided to cook up a tray of lasagna.  I know my friends and family in Central Pennsylvania are probably horrified…there is a strong tradition there of cooking pork and sauerkraut on January 1st to ensure a year of good luck. After enjoying some lasagna and a glass of wine, I decided to head out to give my $10 away before midnight.  

I walked a little ways and came across a Rite Aid pharmacy.  I underestimated how cold it was tonight and was not dressed properly, so I thought that I would find someone inside to give the money to.  As I crossed the street and approached the pharmacy, I thought, I am going to give the $10 to the first person I see when I get inside. 

I didn’t a bit more walk through the door before I saw Melvin carefully studying the shelves in the first aisle.  I walked right up and asked him if he could help me out with a project.  He seemed a bit reluctant and started to try to get rid of me I think.  I quickly countered with, “it will probably only take 2 minutes and you get $10.”

That was all it took…and cash had exchanged hands.

Melvin has lived in DC for five years although he is originally from Honduras.  I asked if he was from Tegucigalpa and he replied that he was from a place about 6 hours from there by car.  I guess it is probably like if I was in Honduras and told someone that I was from the US and them asking if I was from Washington, DC.  Well, I guess that is a bad example since I in fact live here in DC, but anyway, imagine someone else…say from Oconomowoc, WI and them saying that they were from the US.  It would be kind of ridiculous to assume they were from our nation’s capital.

Anyway back to Melvin.  He seemed very nervous.  Perhaps that is a result of my rather hasty approach.  I exchanged a few words in Spanish to see if that might make him more comfortable, but he still seemed a bit on edge.  He said he was going to use the $10 to buy his 2 year-old son a toy.  That seemed to be a thoughtful use of my money and I bet it will make his boy happy.  He seemed eager to end the awkwardness and turned his attention back to his shopping.  I wished him a happy new year, shook his hand, and walked out of the store.

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