Monday, December 16, 2013

I Didn't Change the World Today

"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." - Audrey Hepburn

I didn’t change the world today. I didn’t give millions to fund medical research, start a scholarship fund to see future scholars through their collegiate careers, or develop a self-sustainable food crop to end world hunger.

No, I didn’t change the world today.

Instead, I went to Denny’s.

You see, my youngest has hearing problems and is currently recovering from her second major ear surgery. Today was her first post-op check-up since surgery #2. We see a “super-specialist” in Dallas (about 2 hours away from us). It’s a long drive for a little kid (God bless the inventor of the portable DVD player), and it has become a tradition that either on the way to the appointment or on the way home we stop at the Denny’s on Belt Line Rd. to eat.

There were several tables occupied when my daughter and I sat down, but the one I noticed the most was a young couple with a baby. They were seated on the other side of the room. There was really no particular reason I noticed them. The baby was quiet, the adults just talked to each other. But they just looked so happy to be together. Emma and I followed our normal routine, made our usual orders, and took turns coloring the kid’s menu until our food arrived.

Then the man took out his wallet to (I believe) pay for their food. He took some bills from his wallet and looked a little concerned. The young lady tried to hand him her purse, but he shook his head, unwilling to accept. (I am presuming the emotions, basing it solely on what I saw, as I could not hear what they said.) He looked around, and I tried not to let him see that I’d been watching them.

Again, I can’t say what was drawing me to them. Except…

…I know what it is to be broke. I remember having to make the choice between buying milk or laundry detergent.

…I know what it feels like to need to get out of the house for just one meal even if you can barely afford it. The walls close in after a while.

…I know how life is living from paycheck to paycheck, not knowing if you’ll be able to pay all your bills this month. Even now, some months get very tight, but I can pay my bills. And that’s a good feeling. But I remember.

I have a wonderful fantasy that I win the lottery, and I think of all the good deeds I could do with those mega-millions. The college-funds I could establish, the debts I could pay off for people, the burdens I could ease. Oh, what a blessing I could be. Oh, but, hmmm… Here’s the flaw in that plan: I never remember to play the lottery.

So as my heart broke just a bit watching that man consider those dollar bills underneath the table top I made a decision.

Our waitress brought the food for the table beside us and I beckoned her over. “That couple with the baby, are they your table?” They were. Good that made it much easier. I asked her to put their bill on my ticket, but please not to tell them until we left.

Maybe, even if it’s just for today, it will bring a sense of relief to that little family. And someday in the future, they might remember how it felt to be young and struggling, and they might see the opportunity to help someone else. Then that someone helps someone else. How many ripples can one drop of water make?

Maybe I did change the world, after all. At least for someone.

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