It happened again. This “free” t-shirt has cost me. Though I shouldn’t be surprised because I practically live in this incredibly soft, cotton-blend shirt. It is the most comfortable t-shirt I’ve ever owned. It also just happens to say “Live Generously.”
Today, I was driving to get some lunch and pick up a few groceries. Standing on a busy curb by the store entrance was a man, his pregnant wife, and a stroller with a sleeping toddler inside. Something inside me stirred and I stopped and parked in a lonely lot where I could observe what they were doing. They held up a sign that I could not read. I watched as car after car drove past them—but not because people didn’t necessarily care—the way traffic was flowing it was pretty hit or miss whether a car would actually be able to stop long enough to roll down the window and hand them some change.
As I sat in my truck, my heart broke and I looked down. Sure enough, I was wearing my stinky well-worn “Live Generously” t-shirt. I hopped out of the Cranberry Crush and dodged traffic to go meet them. I introduced myself and found out that they had traveled from California in search of a job. Their names were Julietta and Viorel. They were from Romania originally and were now living in Denver. He tried to answer all of my questions with broken English. He was a mechanic by trade and was having a hard time finding work because his English was not very good. Their smiles, however, spoke volumes.
I asked them what I could do that would be most helpful to them. My mind flashed back to times when I needed help and I remembered that having people ask me what I needed was so wonderful because I could tell them specifically rather than them deciding what I needed based on their perception of my situation or their own judgements. Not too surprisingly, they told me they were in need of groceries and cash to help with rent.
I ran to the grocery store to grab a gift card and some cash. What does “Live Generously” mean, I thought, as I stood at the checkout. $10? $20? No. I decided today generous meant giving up what I would have spent on groceries.
I sprinted back the curb with my cash and gift card in hand. I gave $40 to Julietta and said, “for rent” and I handed Viorel a $100 gift card and said, “for groceries.” Tears started to well up in their eyes. It was like they had won the lottery. They beamed and we shook hands. I asked again. What else can I do? The language barrier was too much and we both recognized that nothing more could be done today. But today was a good day.
As I ran to my truck and got in, I saw them leave their post and head to their vehicle with a new spring in their step. We smiled and waved at each other. I can only hope we meet again.
I am so grateful for every day I can live generously. And, equally grateful for every day others have lived generously for me. I hope this t-shirt never wears out.