Earlier in the year, I opened someone else’s mail. It wasn’t intentional. It was in my P.O. Box and the last name was similar. (I mean how many last names end with an “x?”)
As I opened it, I realized that the bill was for an odd amount. We never get bills in the $20 range so upon further investigation, I found that not only was it not my name, it was for Verizon. Not Verizon Wireless. Ooops.
Of course, my mind goes spinning into what I should do with the bill. Mail it to the appropriate owner? Reseal the envelope and drop it in the outgoing mail?
It occurred to me that the name on the bill was for a woman even though traditionally “Walter” isn’t a woman’s name.
The display read: Mrs. Walter LastName
Something tells me it was an older woman. And given the amount of the bill I can’t imaging it being for anything more than a home phone. Another indicator of an older woman.
I made a hasty decision to pay it.
Once my husband got over the initial, “You opened someone else’s mail?!” response, he agreed. The 20 bucks wouldn’t break our bank but it might make a difference to someone else.
It was purely coincidental that we had $20 budgeted for charity/give away purposes that month.
We’ve always set aside some extra cash for donations, charity, or just plain giving it away (tips at dinner or something) each month when we have extra to spare. Sometimes we don’t have enough to put aside money for this purpose (for instance, we’re saving for a house AND trying to get our vehicles in good working order right now) and sometimes we can put more than $20 aside. It ebbs and flows.
Anyway, the point of this story isn’t to say, “look at me, look at me,” or to get a round of applause. It is to inspire you, dear reader, to make giving more of a regular thing. And giving doesn’t always have to be monetary.
Time is a very valuable thing.
Helping a neighbor shovel their walkway or rake leaves, volunteering at a food pantry, or even just reading to a child that is needing the extra attention are all valid ways. Heck, if you’re looking for a home for the millions of drawing/paintings your kids do – make a field trip to a nursing home and hand them out. Those are memories that will last.
So whatever happened to the misplaced phone bill?
I sent in the payment stub and a check to Verizon. Then, since I had Mrs. Walter LastName’s address, I mailed the bill with a note to her:
I purposely didn’t sign it because I didn’t want her to feel that she needed to do anything further. No “you shouldn’t have,” or “thank you,” necessary. My husband and I didn’t tell anyone about it either. (Well. I am now. I guess. Sorry hun!)
The worse part about not telling anyone is I wanted to. Upon sitting with that feeling further, I realized the ego was looking for a pat on the back. Once I decided to let the ego go home early, I was left with a different feeling. The best part about not telling anyone was I had this awesome secret of helping someone because I could.
I mean, for all I know this woman could have been LOADED. My measly 20 bucks might not have shifted her world in the slightest.
But what if it did?
I think the point is it goes beyond the amount. It’s a kind gesture (which didn’t have to exist) that made the difference. I may never meet Mrs. Walter LastName but I hope it brightened her day – even a little. I know I felt good doing it.
Have you been on the receiving end of am out-of-the-blue kind gesture? Tell me about it below.