I want to tell you about something that recently happened to me, and ask what you might make of it.
It has nothing to do with politics or anything else I usually write about. I would tend to call what happened a coincidence, but my more mystically oriented friends might see a deeper hidden meaning.
So here is the story. On my birthday, Wendy decided that we might do something that would remind me of my childhood. So we would go to a kid’s movie about a book I read as a youngster, followed by a hamburger and fries. That sounded like fun. So off we went, arriving at the movie theater just in time to see “The Jungle Book.” But as we got out of the car there appeared a modestly-dressed young woman on the sidewalk. “Could you help me?” she asked. “My three children and I have nowhere to stay tonight, and we are in a car on the roof of the parking garage. I need just $33 to get a room.”
I am not in the habit of giving out money to panhandlers. Even so, I am sensitive to homeless people, especially with two homeless men having initiated what is now a vital program for the homeless in our city. So I offered her another option and we walked away.
Wendy and I got our tickets and took our seats just as the film was about to start. (While I enjoyed the movie, I don’t think I would ever take my grandchildren to see it. But that is another story.) Following the movie, we made our way to an upscale nearby hamburger restaurant. It is a crowded noisy establishment with the tables almost on top of each other and is populated by hordes of young adults, mostly from the nearby colleges. We ordered our drinks and a couple of very fancy burgers, you know, the 10 to 15 dollar variety. But it was my birthday. We took our time eating and listening to the chatter all around us.
When we finished our meal and asked for the check, the very pleasant server said to Wendy, “Why your meal has already been paid for by a couple who were at another table, and are now gone.” “Who were they?” we asked. She had no idea and when we were seated we didn’t recognize anyone we knew. ”Did they leave you a good tip?” we asked. “They certainly did,” replied the server.
So we left the restaurant befuddled by these two events. We had turned down a young woman, not knowing whether her story was true or a fraud—and we will never know. And we were treated to dinner by someone we may never know. I have had hundreds of people ask me for my spare change or a dollar, but never for $33. And I have never had a stranger buy my dinner without my knowing who it was, or why. The next day Wendy took $33 to the chair of our local homeless project. That didn’t ease our quandary, but it was something we needed to do.
Well, there it is, a coincidence when two totally unrelated occurrences happen almost simultaneously. I don’t know what to make of these events, and I am describing them this week hoping that a few of my readers will offer some clarity, or at least an opinion.