Feeling Generous On Easter Sunday
A couple of weeks ago, I won two pairs of race tickets from a local radio station. I was trying to win a trip; instead I got was the consolation prize of two tickets for two days of fun at a funny car race and a $50 gift card to a local auto parts store. Somehow, it seemed as if this prize was mocking my status as a non-car owner.
I wasn’t sure what I would do with the gift card, but I wasn’t going to give it away – after all, it was worth $50. Since I have no interest in ever going to a car race, though, except maybe the Indy 500 if I should ever find myself in Indianapolis on a Memorial Day weekend, I decided to give away the race tickets.
Of course, I procrastinated and did not put the tickets on Craigslist until the weekend before the race. Easter Sunday morning found me placing an ad before braving out to go to the gym on a day that promised rain. I told people to send their name and address and I would mail the tickets to the first person that responded.
As soon as I left the house, I realized that I had forgotten my phone. When I got back from the gym – which took three hours because buses only run once an hour on Sundays and holidays (and yes, I did get caught in the rain) – I had sixty responses to the ad. I opened the first response in my e-mail. It was from a woman who said that she wanted the tickets to take her father to the race, since he used to take her when she was a little girl. Winner! I felt good about giving the tickets to someone who wanted to create a family memory. Since I lost my father forty years ago, it did my heart good to know that I would be the catalyst for a father/daughter night out.
But there were fifty-nine other responses. After deleting the ad and sending a message to the winner, I remained curious about these other people. The memoir writer in me wanted to find out what these people had to say. I started reading the messages. If the person just gave their address, I deleted the message. If they just gave their phone number, I deleted the message. (Can’t they follow instructions?) If they asked if the tickets were still available, or offered to pick them up, I sent them a message. I wouldn’t want strangers waiting around all day, wondering if the tickets were still available. Since I have an automatic signature tag at the end of my e-mail, I deleted my phone number. No sense in giving angry funny car race fans an excuse to harass me. But I did leave my blog address and info about my novel. You never know where you may pick up new readers.
Several people were big drag racing fans, wanting to surprise spouses or partners. Lots of people wanted to take their children or grandchildren. Several college students expressed interest. Shouldn’t you be studying?
One person had just moved to the state and had not been to the Raceway. I have lived in Sacramento for twenty-four years and I haven’t been there. Where is it, anyway?
The next respondent told me that he lived near the Raceway. Now I knew where it was. How could I have missed it? I used to work near there. One lady said that her car had been stolen the night before and she needed something to cheer her up. I told her that the tickets were taken but expressed hope that her car would be found. I said that I would keep her in my prayers. Having a car stolen on Easter was probably worse than not having a car for fourteen years.
Several people indicated that they had a low income. Since I also have a low income, I wished good luck to them and their families.
Whew! It took longer than I thought to read sixty e-mails. One person responded to my message to wish me a Happy Easter, which was nice. A few others thanked me for letting them know that the tickets were gone. Now the afternoon was gone, too.
For a few hours, I didn’t think about the fact that today was the third anniversary of the day I returned to Sacramento after my three months of homelessness in Los Angeles. I wish I were back in Southern California, as a full time employed person with a car, an apartment, and a LIFE. But I was able to brighten the life of a father and a daughter today – a small start to paying forward the kindnesses that others have done for me. And maybe the start of some positive changes for me.
But the next time I post something free on Craigslist, I’ll make sure that I’m available to delete the ad as soon as the item is given away.
Beatrice M. Hogg is a coal-miner’s daughter and freelance writer who was raised in Western Pennsylvania and has lived in Northern California for twenty-five years, where she wrote her novel, Three Chords One Song, and continues to write about music, long-term unemployment and life in general. If you feel so moved, you may contribute to her “Get A Car — Find A Job!” GoFundMe page here.