Went on an emergency shopping run the other evening to the strip mall on the corner. I parked the car and put on my nametag. Hello, My Name Is Jon. I haven’t noticed people treating me differently because of the nametag, but in its own odd way, it makes me bolder about talking to strangers — maybe because I’m already sticking out as an oddball by wearing a nametag.
As I got out of the car, I saw a teenage kid asking shoppers for money. Everyone either ignored him or declined. He approached me.
“Hey, can I ask you for a dollar?”
My initial response was to ask a question: “Why do you need a dollar?” He answered, “To catch a bus.”
Looking in my wallet, I saw that I had a 10 and a 20, but no 1’s. So I said, “Look, I need to go shopping, and I’ll get some change.” “OK,” he replies, “I’ll wait here.”
Then the kicker: I asked, “What’s your name?”
I reached out my hand. “My name’s Jon.”
We shake hands. I think it’s important. It makes us equals.
I went into the store and got what I needed. Normally I use my debit card and live a fairly cashless life. But this time, I used cash in order to get dollar bills back. All the while I’m wondering, what’s with this kid? Is he just scamming me? Maybe. But whether he is or not, I want him to learn a lesson. And it’s only costing me a dollar to trust him.
Stepping outside, I find him. “Hey, James.” I stuff a dollar bill into his palm. “Thanks,” he says. But I’m not done.
“James, I want you to do me a favor.” He looks at me, wondering where I’m going. “I’m doing something nice for you. Next time, I want you to do something nice for someone else. I think that’s the way God designed it.”