The other night, I flew back to Boston from a last-minute trip. My eyes had the dusty feeling of wanting to close; it was well past anyone's EST bedtime. I was in one of the very last seats to de-board the plane, and as the last few of us got ready to leave we noticed that a few stray dollars and a plastic bag lay crumpled on a seat ahead of us. Since no one had claimed it, I offered to take it up to a flight attendant.
Of course this happened to be the first time in history that no flight attendant was at the front of the plane, so I waited at the gate in the dim airport for an attendant with the roughly seven dollars worth of bills and change in hand. Five minutes. No attendant. Drowsy eyeball dust said it was time to leave.
The money wasn't mine and I felt weird about having it. Lord knows I could spend it on lattes, but I didn't "need" it. So I waited to have a chance to give it away. Funny how soon that chance came.
As a few sleepy travelers waited for the metro (the "T" here in Cambridge), a very vocal man came onto the platform in obvious need of medical care for exposed chronic sores on his legs. I've seen my fair share of impoverished people in New York City and India, but this was the first time in my life I had ever seen a homeless person crying. "There's a bus to an HIV facility leaving in a few minutes, and I need $8 to get there. Please. They'll give me a bed for three days. They'll treat me for free. But I need to get there and I have no money, and if I don't get there I lose my bed." At that time of night, I decided to put my skeptic mind to rest and I looked down at the money in my plastic bag.
I walked over, and started to reach out my bag of seven dollars, feeling a little bad that it was a buck short. What was so freaking awesome was at the very same moment, another woman on the other side of the platform walked over, opening her wallet.
"Here," we both unexpectedly said in chorus to the man in front of us, me holding out seven of someone else's money and she holding out ten of her own.
We and the rest of the metro platform were left without words. His eyes spoke volumes, though.
"Thank you. Oh my God. What? Thank you. Thank you so much," he finally said and took what we offered- albeit small, a momentary abundance- and darted back up the stairs, turning back every few leaps to say thank you at us. My head hoped that he was heading for an actual bus ready depart. But my heart didn't and still doesn't care.
Lady-who-gave-away-her-ten-dollar-bill, wherever you are. That was awesome. High five.