Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but holiday shopping is still in full swing. That said, with all this spending going on, I am thinking back a few years to when I got a friendly reminder about the true value of a dollar
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but holiday shopping is still in full swing. That said, with all this spending going on, I am thinking back a few years to when I got a friendly reminder about the true value of a dollar.
It went something like this …
In 2008, when the economy tanked, I was laid off from an ad agency where I had put in four good years doing really solid creative work. Losing my job sucked. REALLY sucked. It was not just a punch in the pocket book, but right in the heart. My self-esteem, pride, confidence … they all took a hit.
After about a month of looking for work, and getting nowhere, I could feel the panic setting in. Do we need to start thinking about selling the house? One day, in the midst of all this worry, I pulled into a gas station to fuel up. (I remember cringing as I watched the numbers on the pump tick higher and higher.)
On the opposite side of my pump, a husky man was whistling and pumping gas into his truck. As if he could read my mind, he started talking about the crazy price of gas, the economy, and how when he was young his dad used to come down on him pretty hard about his frivolous spending habits, saying that he just didn’t understand the value of a dollar.
I shared with him that I had been laid off about a month ago, and that all I thought about anymore was the value of a dollar. At which point he reached in his pocket, pulled out a crumpled wad of bills, and held out a $20 to me.
“I hope this helps,” he said,” and, “Remember to pay it forward, right?”
I was deeply moved and mumbled something about “thanks, but I couldn’t.” He insisted, said he was “happy” to do it, and so I finally took the money. It was a transformative moment to say the least; and, corny as it might sound, I got something much more valuable than $20: perspective, and an understanding of what he meant by it made him “happy” to do it.
So, like I said, this time of year I am thinking hard about the value of dollar again – but I don’t have to think too hard. Because thanks to that stranger at the gas station, I’m always reminded the true value of a dollar is that you can give it away.
Peace and Happy Holidays.