Maybe I look underfed (doubtful). Or just needy (more likely, especially when I’m fatigued and distracted). Anyway, I’ve had a couple of grocery store experiences in the past week that make me grateful for others’ generosity and, I suspect, their holiday spirit.
At one store, as I was readying to pay for my small bag of groceries, one of the employees walked up and told the clerk and me that an anonymous person who admired my work wanted to pay for my purchase, and produced a $20 bill from an envelope.
I was flabbergasted and hardly knew how to react, other than “really?” It’s a wonderful gesture, but I do the newspaper work for the benefit of the community and my own well-being. Because it felt like a gesture of gratitude rather than charity, I said “OK.” My bill came to about $15, and I accepted the anonymous contribution with the belief that good intentions were all that were at work.
For the record, I’m going to pass along that same amount in the form of a donation to a local nonprofit whose work I admire and support. Paying it forward, as they say. The money needs to keep working for the good of the community, and I appreciate the original sentiment that allows me to do that.
At another store a few days ago, I was making a purchase which included a sandwich that the clerk forgot to ring up. Instead of going through the checkout process again, the clerk just put the sandwich in my bag and smiled. I don’t know how the store manager might feel about that, but it was a spur-of-the-moment gesture that I didn’t have time to absorb before it was completed. I’ll add the value of the sandwich to my nonprofit donation. I’m not sure that makes everything square, but I’ll feel better about it.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. There are moments of grace all around us if we look for them. And this is an exceedingly generous time of the year, even by Methow Valley standards. Of course, the traditional Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Manger Mall programs give us all opportunities to contribute in tangible ways to ensure a happy holiday season for our friends and neighbors. There are other events as well that offer not only entertainment and/or social opportunities but also another way to give. If we can help, we do, with cash, goods or volunteer time. It’s the Methow way.
There are other things of incalculable value that have come my way the past few weeks — things that involve people making a spontaneous effort with no cost attached. Things that people don’t have to do.
For instance: No wrapping or bows were involved, and no cash value assignable, to a couple of “presents” that recently arrived by email: very nice compliments about the newspaper. Those always make me feel humble and grateful for a terrific staff and supportive community, and I resolve to keep doing the best job possible as long as I can.
At a social gathering this week, a couple whose home I had profiled in our “Methow Home” magazine several years ago approached me and reintroduced themselves. I remembered them and their home, and we had a pleasant reconnection.
As I was leaving work one night this week, I heard a man’s voice call out from the next-door Old Schoolhouse Brewery building, whose delivery doors were open. It was dark and I couldn’t see who it was (so sorry if I didn’t express recognition), but he spoke loud enough for me to hear. “I love your newspaper,” the man said. “Thank you, I do too,” I replied. “I really do,” he responded.
Now those are great gifts.