I was stunned. I walked outside from the bank to see a pile of 20s littering the ground, being picked up and scattered by the wind. There must have been thousands of dollars worth of bills there. Now, THAT’s something you don’t see every day.
I dove for them to keep them from flying away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man, stooped, cursing under his breath, grasping at the bills and gasping with the futility of it all.
I really wished I could stop and take a picture of it.
I’d been binge watching Law and Order from the 90’s. In my mind, this was a perfect opening scene. I fully expected to hear the sirens and be shoved up against the wall by Lenny and Mike, screaming, “Just where do you think you’re going with that money, missy?”
It was almost poetic — the wind’s teasing; the 20s stuck in the hedge. But I could afford to wax poetic — this wasn’t my money. It wasn’t my problem.
At some point I turned to hand the cash to the man, but was stopped by the sight of him. Again, I wished I could have taken a picture.
In his anger at himself and frustration with the situation, he’d crumpled every bill he could get his hands on. They were wedged wildly between his fingers as though he would never let them slip through his hands again. They were crushed into paper balls cradled in his arms, like the failed attempts of an author plagued with writer’s block. He had reached the capacity of what he could reasonably hold. How could I possibly hand him more cash?
But at the same time, I didn’t want to pause too long or he might think I had other plans — plans to keep it for myself and run away, for instance. For all I knew, he’d just robbed the bank or done a drug deal — I didn’t want to be in a line of fire.
More likely, he was just trying to pay the rent. I thrust my stack of cash at him and let him figure it out. Messy as it was, my pile was flat — I could hold the stack between my thumb and forefinger.
To my surprise, instead of walking right back into the bank lobby to get organized, he just headed off on his way. I didn’t get a good look at him, and although he probably thanked me, I didn’t really hear what he said. I wondered how much cash he’d drop in his hurry to get to his destination.
Yes, there was a story there, but I probably came away with a better story by not knowing his.
There’s a saying I’ve always been fond of:
Money makes you more of what you already are.
- If you’re selfish and egotistical, it will be reflected in what you buy.
- If you’re kind and generous, it will be reflected in what you give.
His case was a little different, I thought:
- If you’re unorganized in your thinking, you’ll be less able to deal effectively with unforeseen crises.
- If you don’t have good habits — such as knowing when to keep your zipper zipped (to your money pouch, of course…) — everything you’ve worked for could be scattered to the wind.
- If you focus on critical self-talk and blame, instead of on what really matters in the moment, you could miss opportunities that are right there for the taking.
- And if you don’t take the time to thank the people who’ve helped you get where you are…maybe they’ll make a different choice next time.
Here’s to a prosperous fundraising season! May the wind be in your sails.