Saturday, August 15, 2015

It wasn't ALL a waste

I had a wasted day. I took myself to brunch at my second-favorite coffee shop, picked up a few things at Trader Joe's, came home, closed my eyes for just a minute ... and woke up four hours later, in time to watch The Game.*

I think I needed the sleep because last week was stressful at work and I don't believe my slumber has been restful. Next week promises to be just as tense, though it will be a short week. I'm taking Thursday and Friday off for two reasons: 1) I'm fried and 2) I have soooo much vacation time stored up that if I don't begin taking it a little at a time now, I'll be out for much of November and December and my boss says he doesn't want that. So somehow the agency will have to survive without me for a day and a half. They can do it. I'm good, I admit it, but I'm not essential.

I'm pleased to report that my second-favorite coffee shop is making strides. Owned by the same family since forever, a new generation has taken over and given it a much-needed face lift. Pendant ceiling lights, new upholstery in the booths, a fresh coat of paint ... it really helps. Nan, the old-but-still-hustling waitress who has been waiting on me at least since 1997, tells me she's worried many of her regulars won't like newer, healthier menu that's being debuted soon. Fewer skillets at breakfast, fewer burgers at lunch and no more veal, ever. I only go there for breakfast, and never have the skillets (too many potatoes), so I don't care.

And I discovered something about myself. After I dropped off a bag at the local food pantry, I stopped at the bank to see how the school supply drive is doing. So far this month I've donated Crayolas -- both crayons and markers -- because I remember how declasse it was to bring off-brand supplies to school. I wanted to see what else was needed because I have a CVS coupon for "office supplies," which are often the same as school supplies. The box was gone, the drive was over, and I was surprisingly sad. I was actually disappointed because I don't get to spend money on folders and pens and pencils for children I've never met, who are no relation to me whatsoever. What's that about?

I realized I feel closer to God when I'm doing for strangers. Helping coworkers, friends and family is good, of course. We should all do what we can to bring others up. But there's something purer about helping a school drive or a food pantry. We don't get thanked. We don't get to see the happy face of the final recipient. We don't even get a receipt for the IRS. Our only reward is the satisfaction of having done it, of having helped. Of doing what Christ wants me to do.

*An important game: Cubs-Sox.


  1. I'm trying to savor this weekend. I'm just not mentally ready to go back to school tomorrow. Plus, the temps are in the mid to upper 80s and it is humid. Blah.

  2. In the Jewish faith, an act of charity has to be anonymous. I think your explanation is probably why.


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