Friday, December 24, 2010

40 Bucks for Jesus

I finished up the stuff on "Difficult Client's" house so he could live in it for the weekend. I was running late to make it for Vesperal Liturgy so I decided to go to Home Depot to get stuff for the weekend instead.

As I parked my truck I saw among the dozen or more people loading their cars with stuff, a young girl with a baby weaving her way through the parked cars. I thought she was just another shopper looking for her car.

I parked and got out of my truck and I hear a choked voice behind me, "Sir... sir...".

I turn around and it is the young girl.

She is slender, small, maybe five six, and looks to be fifteen but her face has a weary, beaten look of more years than that. Her eyes are steel blue and glistening. Her clumsy mascara has smeared. Her nose, eyebrow and upper lip are pierced and as she wipes her eye with the back of her wrist I see tattoos on her hand, wrist and up her arm.

She is holding a baby, probably about a year old. His nose is crusted with dry snot. On his arms are "kiddie tattoos", the kind you buy at the Dollar Store or get from 25 cent gumball machines. He could use a bath, but isn't dirty enough to look neglected. She hoists him on her hip in her left arm as she wipes her eyes with her right hand.

"Sir..." She chokes. "Please...."

I reach over and put my arm around her shoulder. "It's OK, sweetheart. What's wrong?"

"We just moved here from Ohio. If I don't have 38 dollars in ten minutes they'll put all my stuff on the sidewalk."

"Who is they?"

"The Motel Six over there..." she points across the freeway.

I have a short conversation with her. She's alone, no boyfriend, husband or family. I ask how she's feeding the baby and she says she has food stamps.

"What will you do tomorrow?"

"I don't know."

"Tell me your name."


"What is your room number at the motel so if I can find someone to help you I can find you."

She looks at me. I see a flash of streetwise suspicion in her eyes. Then she says, "238."

I hand her forty dollars. She starts crying.

"Thank you, sir... thank you. I don't mean to be rude but I have to go right now because they are throwing my stuff out." She hoists the baby up and runs across the parking lot toward the motel. I turn the opposite direction and walk into the Home Depot and don't look back.

I don't want to know if she actually went to the Motel Six or not. I don't want to know if she bought shelter for a night for her baby boy or a hit of crystal meth for herself. I don't want to know if I was scammed by a band of gypsies or a young girl learning the ropes of panhandling.

All I want to know this day, the Day of the Nativity of God, is what it means to love without cynicism, to love the ones who will scam, reject and kill you, to give without expectation of reward or requital, to see the image of God beneath the scars and marks of human fragility and futility.

I want to know what it means to hope.

If I can get all of that for forty bucks, I'm the one who is blessed.


elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy. Hope you can also find someone to help her in case it is her room number...

God help all lost children...

Anonymous said...

God bless you Steve, and thank you for this..

Matushka Anna said...

God bless you Steve...

Prayers tonight for all those in dire straits. Lord have mercy.

magda said...

Thank you. Luke 6:30.

Ochlophobist said...

Considering that Ohio (particularly the Southern part) is God's country, I am pretty sure you just got your ticket to paradise.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you rock. Thank you for this...and Merry Christmas!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Becky said...

I am sitting here totally made my Christmas. God bless you, and God bless and have mercy on that girl, whatever her situation.

Tim said...

Steve.... thank you. Merry and blessed Christmas to you!

the daily convert said...


you have received an award at:


Anonymous said...

Hugs, love, and blessings, Steve.

Unknown said...

I believe too often we want to some guarantee that our gifts have the results that we think are best; it's a kind of selfishness and lack of faith I suppose. God's plans for those 40 dollars are probably quite different from ours; good work for giving them with such love and faith.

Fr. David said...

We had a somewhat similar Christmas experience, but with a different outcome. Our church and rectory are just a few blocks outside the city limits of Gary, Indiana, a place which everyone recognizes as the poster child for urban blight... More frequently than we would like, various people come to our door with slightly implausible stories, leading to a $10 or $20 handout.

On the evening of the 25th, when our entire family (children & grandchildren from another state) was enjoying our time together, the doorbell rang. It was a nice looking young man with another implausible story. He was inadequately dressed for the cold weather, and shaking from cold, so I unhappily and very guardedly invited him in as far as the closed-in back porch/converted to office. He wanted a ride to a train station, as well as some additional money to buy tickets for his mother & little brothers, who were supposedly in the hospital in Chicago. I took him to the train station but did not give him any money.

We came to the conclusion that the young man was probably a meth addict. He also claimed to be visiting from Ohio (the Cleveland area, although his accent was southern Ohio).

My family was quite indignant and upset that I had brought him into the house and taken him in my car to the train station. It seemed the right thing to do at this time. However, in general it is not advisable, at least in this area, to open your door to strangers.

Yes, Steve, we know why He came. And sometimes we must take risks, with no certain outcome, because He came.

God doesn't always protect those who help such people, however. Just a few years ago, an Atlanta area pastor was murdered by someone to whom he gave a ride.

Chocolatesa said...

You're right, He told us to give, not to make sure or worry about what happened after that.

Martin said...

"I don't want to know..." ...I just want to feel good about myself.

"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."


Steve Robinson said...

Martin, I've already made full disclosure:
As a teacher, sometimes you risk taking your "reward" up front for the sake of something greater. If I wasn't all about the street corner I wouldn't be on the internet at all, but thank you for the reality check.

Claude LOPEZ-GINISTY said...

Bonjour Steve!

I took the liberty of translating this post into French for my blog. It will appear on October 14, 2011 ( )
God bless!

hypodeacon Claude (Lopez-Ginisty)

Steve Robinson said...

Merci, Hdn, Claude.