However, after spending literally all of Monday in a hospital waiting for my dad, and knowing that sometimes life takes longer than expected, I felt a sudden urge to do something. I saw that the Meter Man was spending some time writing a ticket on this one car; I walked up sort of next to/behind him and noticed the car next to the one he was ticketing also was in the red: expired. Something in my head clicked: what if this person is in the doctor's office? What if they're in the bookstore on the phone with their sick grandmother? What if they're having a really nice meal with their teenage daughter and they don't want to get up and ruin the moment? What if...what if we're enjoying life and forget about paying our .25 cents to the meter? And then, what if we come back to our car and see a ticket (for $50, I know because I've gotten one in town--I was two minutes late getting back to my car!)? What will happen to that good mood? What will happen to the already emotionally charged woman or man or mother or father? So, what did I do? I slipped a quarter into the meter in the car beside the Man. I kept on walking; I noticed I had dumbly forgotten a DVD in the bottom of my tote, so I crossed the street again to return the DVD to the library. As I walked out, I noticed a very confused Meter Man laughing, talking to the woman behind the wheel of the car I gave the quarter to. He must have seen that she was in the red one second, but when I walked by...not anymore. She was laughing. I can tell you, she wouldn't have been laughing if she had gotten back to her car and seen a ticket. $50 is a lot of money!
So, what did I do? What any other normal person would do (not): I searched my tote for any other quarters I had and ran faster than the Meter Man could walk. No, I'm not kidding. I walked quickly in front of him, he couldn't see me, and when I saw a red meter with a car parked, I slipped a quarter in. I did this three more times. One dollar. It was one dollar to me, and $200 to those four people; it was one dollar that was hanging out in the bottom of my bag, and one more moment that wouldn't be ruined for those people. Know what? It made me feel really good. I couldn't help everyone, but I could help a few. They may never know it, and they probably won't, but I know that life can change on a dime (or quarter!), and sometimes we need those extra five minutes on the phone, talking to a doctor, or simply taking a breather at Starbucks. It's not fair that those five minutes could cost some people a week's worth of groceries; so, I happened to be there, and I happened to help, because I happened to have some loose change.
I suggest next time you're out in your town, look for red-expired meters with cars, and if you have one quarter, slip it in their meter and be their anonymous donor of time (and money!).
Have you ever secretly helped someone out, without their knowledge?
I am a firm believer in karma, and this time around karma was on my family's side, so I passed some along so maybe another family could spend their night laughing instead of worrying about a ticket, or worrying that they have to ruin a moment to put money in their meter. I can tell you after hanging out in a hospital for hours, life and love are timeless: there is no boundary, there is no clock, there is no meter.
PS. This woman did 38 random acts of kindness on her 38th birthday...well, I love this! (Hello, next birthday!)