Another Day in the Country
An unexpected gift
© Another Day in the Country
A couple of times a week, my sister and I are on the road to Abilene for the purpose of exercise. It is a ritualized experience. Depending upon who is driving, we take turns reading out loud something interesting from magazines like Vanity Fair or The Sun or maybe from a book one of us is reading.
If Jess is working — which during this pandemic she often has been — I make the drive alone listening to public radio or a favorite CD. I always have my camera with me, enhancing the experience of driving across the Kansas prairie. You never know when the vista becomes so glorious that one just must stop and take a picture, recording the moment.
After our workout, we often stop for an Egg McMuffin (no meat) treat, before we go to our favorite country market for groceries. Then it’s back toward our home town, where there is no grocery store, no restaurant, and no formalized exercising spot other than the yard.
On this particular day, I’d already eaten breakfast at home before embarking on the trip, but Jess had been looking forward to getting her treat in Abilene. We turned into the drive-thru restaurant where there are two different lanes of service, people interfacing their vehicles as they proceed to the payment window and on to picking up their meal.
“An Egg McMuffin, please,” Jess intoned toward the crackling speaker, “no meat, no butter, and a senior coffee.”
She laughed turning towards me.
“Might as well take advantage of being over 65,” she said.
A lady in the other service line waved and smiled at us as she pulled ahead to pay for her order. When we pulled up to the window, Jess extended her dollar bills.
“Your breakfast has been paid for already,” the cashier announced, “by the person ahead of you in line, so have a nice day.”
We were flabbergasted! We’d heard of things like this happening but never to us.
What kind of truck was that? I’d like to thank her.
But the truck and the lady were long gone.
Needless to say, we are still talking about the experience and have continued to hunt for ways to give that kind of gift to other folks. It was just so much fun to receive.
We’ve always loved giving and receiving surprise gifts but had never had something like this happen — a gift from a complete stranger.
The upshot is — and I’m sure it was the giver’s intent — for us to continually look for ways to do the same thing for someone else.
My sister has always loved giving gifts.
If she had a big enough house, she would devote a whole room to gift-giving memorabilia. She’d have her stash of wrapping paper lining one wall, on rollers, over a big work table, with all colors of ribbon, organized; a file full of cards for every occasion; unusual stationary for writing messages; colored pens; a closet full of boxes (metal for cookies, cardboard for mailing); stickers; and tape.
And then there would be shelves of potential gifts just waiting for the right time or the right person to appear on her giving-radar. (She has a lot of this crammed in a closet, by the way).
However, receiving this unexpected gift from a stranger just stopped her in her tracks.
It also made us very aware of how blessed we are, and how much we receive daily, and in turn how fortunate we are to be able to give.
To have that little extra to hand to another, or to divide and share what we already have, is a luxury.
As a child, I learned a little verse by memory, “It is much better to give than to receive.”
“How could this be?” my young soul wondered. “What could be better than getting a present?”
I eventually learned about the thrill of giving.
The Health Department, where Jess works, was giving COVID shots to seniors the other day when, suddenly, a big, tall, farmer walked in the door with a huge bouquet of flowers for the staff members who organized the event.
“Those flowers just lit up the room,” Jess said. “While he handed the bouquet to one person in particular, those flowers brought a smile to everyone in the room” on another day in the country.