You’re a single mother. Your name is Deidra. Your wallet has three bucks in it. You have an old Visa gift card with a balance of twelve dollars left. That’s your story.
Something bad happened to you today. It wasn’t because of anything your did. It happened because you’re in your late-thirties and things like this happen to people in their late-thirties. It’s a fact of life. Teenagers work for cheaper pay than you do. So your employer hired a teenager and cut your hours down to one day per week. Management’s way of firing you.
You reacted. You let your manager have it. You called him an awful name. You wish you could take it back, but…
You don’t wish this very hard.
So now you’re crying in your car. You wipe your face. Then cry again. You go to pick up your kids. You are waiting for the most important things in your life to exit the free daycare. You’re trying to figure out how you’ll tell them you lost your job.
Meantime, you sort mail while you wait. Power bill. Water bill. Cell phone bill. Cable. Insurance. It never ends.
Daycare lets out. Your kids run toward your car. There are kisses, hugs. You notice how tall your oldest is. Your nine-year-old colored a picture. They learned about elephants today. Elephants, Mom. Elephants.
They talk loud and happy. They have no idea that your life is on the rails. They have no idea that you struggle to feed them.
You’re thinking about what’s inside your refrigerator for supper. A few slices of bologna, half a liter of Coke, old carrots, two eggs. You look in your purse. The gift card. It’s not much, but hey, it’s dinner.
You drive to a pizza buffet. The cheap one where they leave the pizzas out all afternoon until the cheese becomes Club Med for bacteria. It’s only six bucks for your oldest to eat, four bucks for the youngest—not counting the sodas.
The cashier gives you the total. You slide your gift card and hold your breath.
Life isn’t supposed to be this way. You’re not supposed to skip suppers and feed your kids with leftover gift cards. You’re young, pretty, healthy. You’re supposed to be living. Instead, you’re a few dimes shy of being on skid row.
After the meal, you leave eighty-four cents as a tip. It’s a pathetic tip, but that’s all the loose change you have in your purse.
Now you’re on your way home. But, wait, it gets better. Your gas gauge is on E. Surprise.
For some reason you’re feeling humiliated by all this. That’s how poverty works. Poorness embarrasses a person until they think so little of themselves they don’t like their reflection. It chips away at the mortar that holds the bricks together.
You pull into a gas station. You’re going to put your last three dollars into your old Ford Contour’s tank. Not a penny more. It’s a Hail Mary pass.
You walk inside to pay cash before you pump. You are sick inside because it occurs to you that you are, for the first time ever, one hundred percent broke.
There’s a man in line behind you. He’s tall. Longish hair. Dirty boots. Smells like the south end of a north-facing goat. He smiles at you.
The man sees you throw three dollars down. There is a sincere look on his face.
He steps forward and says, “I’d like to pay for her gas.”
He places thirty dollars on the counter.
“You don’t have to do that,” you tell the man. But he insists.
He pays your bill. Thirty bucks, you’re thinking, does he expect something out of you? What is this guy’s motive? You head for your car quickly.
He follows. “Wait!” he hollers. “Wait.”
Now you’re a little scared. Some random guy is following you at night, and God knows what he’s got in mind. You’ve seen the ten-o’clock news. You’ve read the newspapers. This guy doesn’t look like he wants to play patty cake.
You jump into your car and lock the doors. You start the engine. Forget the gas.
He raps on the window. “Please,” he says. “Wait.”
After a few minutes, he doesn’t leave. You consider calling the cops. Instead, you roll down your window—against your better judgement. When you do, the man digs into his coat and hands you a little bank envelope.
“It’s all I got,” he says. “Wish it were more, ma’am. I want you to have it.”
He says nothing else, then he walks away. He does not step into an automobile. He does not ride a bicycle. He doesn’t follow a sidewalk. He just walks into the darkness, and he’s gone.
You open the envelope. Inside are hundred-dollar bills. Crisp bills. Four of them.
If you’ve read this far, maybe you’ve gone through life thinking there isn’t anything out there watching over you.
Deidra wants you to know that you’re wrong.
Peggy - August 19, 2021 7:01 am
We go and give money to the local propane dealer periodically and ask them to apply it to propane bills for someone who is just not quite making their payment. It’s a cool, fun way to help and no one knows; no one is embarrassed nor beholden. And it feels so good!
Norma Den - August 19, 2021 7:58 am
Angels come in all shapes and sizes. We have no right to label anyone by their gender, race, looks, colour or creed. Good on that unknown man, may someone be kind to him one day too.
Ann - August 19, 2021 9:50 am
Robert - August 19, 2021 10:13 am
Robert wants you to know you are wrong too. Someone is looking out for you😀
Cathy - August 19, 2021 10:14 am
There are still many good people in this upside down world.
Joan Moore - August 19, 2021 10:36 am
That is the best example of bearing one another’s burdens I have ever read. Let’s go and do likewise.
Karen Snyder - August 19, 2021 11:15 am
Thank you, Lord, for the angels and the Good Samaritans. Thank you, Sean, for reminding us.
Brenda - August 19, 2021 11:32 am
Sean, thank you for sharing Deidra’s story with us. For me personally, you are about the only daily printed article that I can read that does not increase my anxiety and stress levels to the point that I loose sleep; etc. Thank you so very much from all of those, like me, who cannot read the daily “news” or watch the talking heads on TV; you give us positivity that is greatly needed in our lives! May the Lord continue to bless you and you wife. 💗
skrantz0710gmailcom - August 19, 2021 11:34 am
This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you
EllisA - August 19, 2021 7:23 pm
Me too, started weeping when the guy offered to pay for her gas.
mccutchen52 - August 19, 2021 11:36 am
Always believe and if possible try to be one. Don’t let the world get you down because the press only tells us the bad things going on in the world. There are nice things and nice people on this planet.
Julie Rowzee - August 19, 2021 12:13 pm
This gave me chills. The good kind. I love it and I sure needed a smile today!
Bill Harris - August 19, 2021 12:17 pm
Thank you Sean for writing about the goodness in people. God bless you.
Michael Dale Milita - August 19, 2021 12:23 pm
Amen Sean. You and Jamie seem a of you’ve also met Angels even before Deidra did. Believe MD your witness is inspiring. I thank God for you and your Jamie.
Carter Anthony - August 19, 2021 12:28 pm
While Nancy Pelosi and her Klan send our hard earned tax dollars to Pakistan for “gender studies”.
Patricia Gibson - August 19, 2021 12:42 pm
Jan - August 19, 2021 12:44 pm
So beautiful, so inspirational, gives me hope for this old world …
Cindy R - August 19, 2021 12:52 pm
Thank you for writing. You teach great lessons through your stories. God bless you and yours.
Sarah - August 19, 2021 12:53 pm
Clara - August 19, 2021 1:07 pm
I immediately thought of your story about the Argentinian man who lived in a parking lot…
Melanie - August 19, 2021 1:27 pm
Thank you Sean. Did you know that you are an Angel for so many of us ? ❤️
Robyn - August 19, 2021 1:40 pm
Thank you Sean for today’s writing. In the midst of all you have going on in your life right now, you send us uplifting words. Thank you. i can’t type it enough. And y’all have all my prayers. Robyn
Shelton A. - August 19, 2021 1:40 pm
And they say there are no angels. Thanks for proving them wrong!
maxnayagus - August 19, 2021 1:49 pm
All. The. Feels. ❤️
Suellen - August 19, 2021 2:00 pm
This strikes home to me. I was a single Mom for 8 years with 3 kids (the oldest two handicapped) and no child support. I quit my part time job at K Mart when I realized the babysitters wanted more money than I made a week. I eventually went on Aid for Dependent Children (welfare) and they expected us to live on $196 dollars a month. I became proficient at making chicken and noodles. Back then I could get chicken wings for 29 cents a pound and with eggs and flour make a filling meal for my kids for a couple of bucks. I got a Pell grant and went to college and they took that amount out of my AFDC check and stopped my food stamps. I told them that my kids couldn’t eat that Pell grant. It didn’t matter. But I was determined. I went to college full time. Worked full time and after my accounting classes started doing taxes on the side. I got a Business Professional Women’s Scholarship and earned a 4.0 at graduation. It was still a struggle but then at least I could breathe. Praying for all the Deidra’s out there. It may seem as if the world is against you but keep pushing forward.
Sharmen Oswald - August 19, 2021 2:01 pm
Angels are all around us. Whenever we encounter someone like this, someone that we might not ordinarily connect with, I wonder is that an “angel unaware”?
Candy Clark - August 19, 2021 2:06 pm
Sean – first, my condolences to your family. We will miss stories about Mary.
I read your posts almost every day, but have to be careful because I usually tear up. In this CRAZY world right now, you become numb to all the so-called “news stories” , but your stories make me “feel” again! With true human emotion of kindness, love, hope and the sometimes unexplainable! I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!!
I would hug you and your wife, if I could! Be Blessed – Candy from rural Idaho
Barbara Gunter - August 19, 2021 2:22 pm
I’ve been there. Three children, and no money. Dialysis three times a week. I had to drive 100 miles round trip to be on a dialysis machine. Car repoed three times, house foreclosed on by the next door neighbor who knew I was sick and desperate. Bad times. Things worked out. I met a wonderful man who wanted to help, and he did.
I received a kidney transplant 41 years ago from a 19 year old who had just signed his donor card. I’m forever thankful to those two men. God bless you all. Never give up. Have faith.
Stacey Wallace - August 19, 2021 2:47 pm
God bless that man and Deidra. I lost my Daddy to Alzheimer’s in 2018. He was a good Christian man who loved God and his family. He once told me that God had blessed Mama and him so much and that it was their duty to help as many people as they could. Also, they did it anonymously, as God tells us to do. That was one of the most important lessons he ever taught me. Thanks, Sean!
Lynn Carol Owen - August 19, 2021 3:00 pm
Anne McDaniel - August 19, 2021 3:04 pm
A beautiful story!
Ruth Mitchell - August 19, 2021 3:15 pm
You really tugged at my heartstrings! In today’s world we need these stories of hope. Please keep them coming.
Lucinda Harding - August 19, 2021 3:30 pm
My daily devotion then your story begins my day. Sometimes you make me laugh and many times the tears flow but you ALWAYS inspire me. Thank you Sean. The honesty in your writing is gift for so many.
DAVID A WILSON - August 19, 2021 3:31 pm
As usual, GREAT writing!!!
charlynecox - August 19, 2021 3:37 pm
You made me cry…again. I love this story! Love and prayers for Deidre, her children, and everyone in need. God bless them and those who give.
Susan - August 19, 2021 4:12 pm
Awesome story. I do believe in Earth Angels. I look forward to reading your posts everyday. Thank you
Barb - August 19, 2021 4:30 pm
What a great story. There are good people! My heart goes out to Dierdre and people like her. My thought was: maybe no cable and no soda. I have over the air tv and water is healthier anyway.. There are help wanted signs all over where I live in Colorado- employers are looking for people!
Fran E Jackson - August 19, 2021 4:40 pm
Christina - August 19, 2021 4:49 pm
Sean, I am feeling more hopefully today because of your story. God bless all the Deidras in every shape everywhere.
Linda Moon - August 19, 2021 5:50 pm
Deidra is right. Sometimes we get it wrong, but for me it’s less wrong and more often right when Anyone watches me and then shows up. Deus ex Machina, Deidra. Thank you for reminding me.
Mona White - August 19, 2021 8:32 pm
I read your stories before the newspaper. Thank you!
Brenda Leslie - August 19, 2021 10:06 pm
A true to life story. There are good people out there.
outlawman2 - August 20, 2021 1:18 am
There is still empathy and kindness in this world. God bless you all.
Mary Coley - August 20, 2021 4:40 am
I love this. Love it.
dizzy50dianne - August 20, 2021 10:18 am
I know Diedra. I WAS Diedra. Those angels came to me, too. There’s so much UGLY in the world. Thank God He plants angels, too. To, counteract, somehow, the ugly. Sean, bless you and your family in the loss of your Mother Mary. Your words surely made me know her, too.
Jane - August 20, 2021 12:56 pm
A reason to ALWAYS keep cash and to SEE the people as God sees them….
Rikki - August 20, 2021 2:40 pm
I’ve been on both ends of this story, once when I was young and blinded by an unrequited love, and several times again when I was older, wiser, successful and grateful. Last Christmas I walked into a nearby school where I had heard about a young woman with children who had lost their husband/father to Covid. She was behind the protective glass, pretty, so young with beautiful eyes. I handed her the bank envelope, said Merry Christmas and left quickly. On my way to my car I cried tears for all those who need someone to care, for a minute, an hour or forever. Be kind in this world. It is a messy place sometimes.
Love all your stories Sean…we are kindred spirits. My best to you and Miss Jamie.
Romulus Martin - August 23, 2021 12:32 am
There are good folks all around and angels also. I’ll-share a brief story that happened to my sister years ago while living in California I think. Been in so many places not sure. She was driving down interstate in a flooding rain and car had a flat. This was before she had cell phone, so she was panicking about what to do. Well a pickup truck pulls up behind her 2 men ask her to crack her window and ask her to unlock trunk so they can get to the spare . They changed her tire in this driving rain. She thanks them so much and their simple reply was “He sent us this way” and they drove off. She is a Christian like me and never forgotten this event.
Sarah Perry - August 23, 2021 2:31 am
Wow. Just wow!
Dawnie B - August 23, 2021 5:07 am
God bless those who heed the Call to help those who need love, food, money, a roof, or a shoulder to cry on! ❤️👏✝️🙏🏼
Suzi - August 23, 2021 12:02 pm
Let me be an angel to someone today’. Ooen my eyes Lord and my heart
Molly - August 24, 2021 5:52 pm
Thank you so very much for your inspiring words of wisdom. You see details of hearts and souls that are usually missed. I have been in this lady’s shoes. Earth angels may be where we least expect. Whenever we can, we need to be one and pay it forward! Many blessings to you and sweet Jamie.
muthahun - September 1, 2021 12:20 am
Bravo. Yes, a great reminder to “pay it forward”. But notice, if you will, who it was giving that envelope… the long-haired, kinda dirty fella who faded into the darkness. Not the dude in the Jag and the designer suit, huh? If we all paid more attention to what’s going on in our country; why someone making a million dollars a year pays Social Security on only $142,800; why someone on food stamps should have them taken away because they were going to college on a Pell Grant; why big corporations are allowed to buy up every scrap of real estate so that rents are unaffordable for anyone on minimum wage. Angels are few and far between. Politicians are a dime a dozen… but they all have phones, and we need to be calling them.
dixie7744gmailcom - September 17, 2021 10:39 pm
My life is on empty; such encouraging stories.