One Surprise Dollar

This is a busy time of year for our family. Eric, my partner, is the mountain bike coach for the school district. Every other weekend, he and the kids travel to a mountain destination for a two-day racing event. The first race was held two weeks ago in Frisco and the next is this weekend in Steamboat. 

We don’t normally operate busy as a family. It’s not in our nature. But we all have hectic seasons, and this is one for us. 

So, when Labor Day weekend rolled around Eric made a declaration: I’m not doing anything this weekend! which in Eric-speak really means: I’ll only work on three projects at home instead of five. 

Monday’s afternoon heat drove us out of our non air-conditioned house into Boulder. He had a hankering for ice cream and in our family when there’s an ice cream hankering the rule is, that it must be honored. We went to Sweet Cow Ice Cream before heading to a movie. Apparently everyone else in the general vicinity of Boulder had the same idea. 

We waited in the Disneyland-esque line, winding our way slowly through the shop. In front of us were two ten-year-old buddies. With their dollars fanned out in their hands, they studied the board of ice cream flavors while rehearsing their order in whispers.

As the line inched along we arrived at the front counter. Eric and I discussed our orders while the boys splayed their lawn mowing dollars on the counter in front of them for the server to see.

The first boy sailed through the ordering process, not missing a beat, his paltry dollar amount plenty. But the boy next to me placed his order as a question rather than a request. The kind server, with a shop full of hungry clients ran over to the cash register to ring up his proposal. She returned with bad news. The boy adjusted his order and the scene repeated. 

The mother inside me had compassion while also recognizing the importance of the moment. These particular lessons in money management are hardly a thing a parent can teach. But I am not heartless and I slid him the lone, surprise dollar I discovered in my wallet.

He looked up at me, eyes wide with disbelief. 

He retried his original order and sure enough, had plenty of dollars this time around. 

A single, surprise dollar ushered in a cascade of events, changing the course of the day for a handful of people on a hot holiday at Sweet Cow Ice Cream in Boulder, Colorado.

I am forever amazed at the ripple effects of kindness, especially when my kindness seems so small. But I’ve come to realize, it’s not about the magnitude of the offering, it’s all about being seen.

Let’s look for opportunities to see today. Chances are your offering doesn’t need to be more than what is at your fingertips to give.