I experienced a little "incident” recently on a Sunday afternoon in a grocery store. Now mind you, I generally don’t do grocery shopping on Sunday, but it was a hot day and my daughter and granddaughter were visiting from NC, and it seemed necessary to have some ice cream. So, after service and in our church clothes, we stopped by the store on our way home. One thing led to another, and we picked up a loaf of bread, some coffee, and few more items and headed for the checkout lane.
In front of us was an attractive, slim woman about forty years old (I’m guessing), wearing purple Capri pants and white top. She finished her checkout, and as I moved forward, putting down my items, she turned and handed me a card and said, “This is yours.” I took the card and hurriedly said “Thanks,” thinking I’d dropped something. She smiled and quickly left. Fumbling with my wallet, I then I looked at the card. It wasn’t anything I’d dropped but a gift card to the store.
“What’s this?” I asked the fellow at the register. Did she think I dropped this?’
“It’s a Samaritan,” he said.
I looked at my daughter then back at him.
“What do you mean?”
“A Samaritan deed,” he said, checking my items.
“But it’s not mine,” I said.
“She gave it to you.” He said.
“She put money on it, and it’s yours,” he said.
I looked at my daughter again and said, “But I don’t need it. I don’t understand. Am I supposed to use it?”
“Yes, it’s a Samaritan deed,” he repeated.
Somewhat flustered, I blurted out, “How much money is on it?
“Ten bucks,” he said.
By this point, I was running my credit card through the machine.” But, but….” Then it occurred to me, “Okay then, that’s very nice, but I’ll give it to someone who really needs it.”
“That’s fine,” he said, bagging the rest of my things. “It’s a Samaritan.”
As we left the store, I turned to my daughter and asked, “Do we look poor?”
“I don’t think so, she said, “Besides, we’re wearing Sunday clothes.”
“Then why do you think she gave us the card?”
“Maybe she heard a sermon this morning about doing a good deed,” my daughter said. “Or maybe she’s seen the movie about ‘paying it forward.’”
We talked about it on the way home, wondering to whom we should pass along the grocery gift card. A poor-looking person? No, we determined, because we’d received the card and we hadn’t “looked” poor. We questioned how does a person know who might be poor?
Maybe you could give it to a stay-at-home mom,” my daughter ventured. “Or give it to a homeless shelter or put it in a gift basket.”
Finally, I said, “We have been stretched mentally and spiritually,” to which my daughter added, “And made to consider our wardrobe choices.” At that we laughed, but the remarkable thing is, the woman—whoever she is—gave us something that did stretch us mentally and spiritually, not to speak of the universal question, “Who is poor?”
Are we speaking of the poor in spirit, the poor monetarily, or a person without a friend?
I decided to gift the store card to someone recently downsized out of a job. The way the economy is these days, I shouldn't have a hard time locating such a person. Now to figure out how to actually “do” it.
Oh, and one more thing: How odd the cashier said “It’s a Samaritan.” Was he referring to the card, the person, or the deed? Whatever, I got the gist of the matter.