The Sun has set. Christmas Eve has begun. Listen to the older Christmas carols and hear about ghost stories. Tonight was saved from being my scariest Christmas Eve. A good Samaritan, actually someone I know from Whidbey Island, heard about the things I’m trying to do, the troubles I’ve had, and remembered something I did years ago. The result: a check in the mail that covered my biggest bill. Pardon me as I pause and think about that, yet again. They made the difference. They turned a holiday framed in worry into a holiday framed in hope.
For those of you just tuning in, about four years ago I was hit by a Triple Whammy. It happened during The Great Recession (or the Second Depression), but that was a coincidence. As more than one financial professional described it, I was hit by a perfect storm of bad luck. In today’s America, that’s unforgivable. Thanks to some help, I saved my house. Thanks to some folks that needed my help, I’ve been able to pay almost all of my bills by consulting. Thanks to patience, a long-term perspective, an appreciation of how much worse it can be, and a lot of work, I have hope.
And then the fuel pump on the truck died and needed to be replaced. It is one of those pumps that lives inside the gas tank. It had to be fixed. I couldn’t do it myself, but the nearest shop was able to get it fixed and running again – for more than I could afford, and they would only take cash or check. There’s finally enough room on the credit card for emergencies, but they didn’t take plastic. My truck was held hostage to their money policy. I scrambled, paid their bill, and then wondered how I’d pay the others.
Earlier in December, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to start a coworks in Langley (ReCharge Langley). I have approaches for other locations, like my current address of Clinton, but a good building in Langley became available at just the right time. Fundraising campaigns are public events, at least this one is, and in the midst of the various pledges and messages of enthusiastic support there was one email from a friend from years ago.
Before the truck, inspired by the campaign but not related to it, the email thanked me. Evidently, what I do, how I do it, and why I do it made an impression. Evidently, years ago I listened in just the right way, at just the right time, about a personal matter that was dealt with discreetly. When they saw what I was doing now, knew what I’d been through recently, and remembered what I’d done years ago, they decided they had to do something. They sent me a check for me, not the campaign. Value delivered for value received.
What I did wasn’t difficult. I didn’t do it to take advantage of a friendship (which others had evidently done). It is the sort of thing we all do for friends. Pardon the cliche but, that’s what friends are for.
Humans are social. We survive because we help each other. Does the phrase, “We The People” come to mind?
Here I sit, typing this post on Christmas Eve, not bemoaning the task of writing but wondering how many people don’t have my good fortune. Almost every day I post “news for people who are eager and anxious about the future” on my other main blog: PretendingNotToPanic.com. Today there was only one story. Homelessness and hunger are rising in America. Earlier this week I also posted that the upper class is doing better, and more people are joining it. There’s a bifurcation in America that, as one commenter mentioned; “So we’ve returned to Dickens-era conditions? Bah, humbug!” An appropriate comment on Christmas Eve.
Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol“, is about an era in England when there was the upper class and the lower class, and few living in the gulf between them. As much as it is about Scrooge and Cratchit, there were also the folks gathering money for the less fortunate. It was a time in England that preceded a more benevolent period. By the end, Scrooge becomes one of those helping the unfortunate. England eventually changed, too.
I can’t quote the conversation that resonated with my benevolent friend, someone who was always more likely to help, and was never a Scrooge. I am that much more impressed with them, thankful for the money of course, but impressed because they acted in a way that was more than words, sincere, and vital. We have wrapped money in stigmas and taboos, and it is refreshing to see someone who makes their own judgments. I am humbled that I am the recipient of their generosity.
I’d like to present them with a gift, but evidently I delivered that years ago. Just for fun, though, I sent them one of my books as part of an inside joke that would be too hard to describe here.
To everyone who cares about others, thank you. To everyone who helps others, thank you. Amidst the rhetoric and ideologies in our ceaseless debates, there are people who treat people as if they were people without labels; just like a Samaritan who tended a Levite, as a person taking care of a person simply because they were a person.
Enjoy the holidays, and each other.