I was on the phone with my mom, rehashing some wedding tidbits and contemplating sleep when the doorbell rang. A quick glance at the phone told me it was 9:30 at night and I couldn’t help but wonder – who the heck would be ringing my doorbell at such a late hour?
Long story short – it was a new neighbor who had moved in a few doors down. Her daughter (and grandchild … we think …) were stranded up in the Twin Cities and the neighbor had to drive up and rescue them. But she didn’t have gas money to get up there. During this whole conversation, I’m still on the phone with my mother who was bristling with mom-like concern (“Don’t open your door to strangers!” So I let my husband open the door) and the only part I catch is that this lady needs money, she’s willing to give us the title to her car in exchange for cat and I can see our Evil Cat making furtive glances towards the open door.
“Honey!” I yell, reaching for my wallet. “I have this gas card.” And sure enough – when we were cleaning out one of our cupboards, we had found a $15 fuel card that the husband had received for Christmas. He had given it to me since it was for a gas station that I frequent and since we hadn’t used it in four months, I was perfectly content to give it to this stranger who was standing on our doorstep.
The situation resolved and the conversation ended with my mom (“Make sure you lock your darn doors!”), hubby and I looked at each other.
“I don’t like people ringing our doorbell in the middle of the night,” I said.
“I think we’re never going to see that money again.”
“You’re probably right.”
I’m torn about this situation. Robert Frost wrote that “good fences make good neighbors” and I’m inclined to agree. I’ve had strangers from Chicago call my personal cell phone because I was idiot enough to loan it to a neighbor in Wisconsin. I’ve had other neighbors in my old neighborhood come to my door at even weirder times at night asking for $20. And I’ll be honest – I freakin’ hate it. But then I remember being 17 years old and having my car break down at 3 a.m. on a country road. My friend Gina and I hoofed it to the house where one of our classmates lived and our friend Ben’s mom was so gracious to us. Even at 3 a.m. I can’t even remember how many of my brother’s friends came to our house if they had car trouble and were in the area. My folks were always tired but gracious during those moments. Where is my graciousness? Where is my inclination to be a good neighbor?
And it isn’t the money. Like I said, I fished out a $15 gas card that I was probably going to use on a trip to my folks’ house tomorrow. But I don’t need the money. And with a houseful of wedding gifts and some wedding money to boot, the husband and I aren’t suffering from want right now either. We just want to live quietly in our neighborhood and not be bothered.
Here is what I hope: I sincerely hope that my husband and I did a good deed. I don’t care if karma chooses to grace us in the future for our kindness, but I honestly hope it doesn’t rear back to bite us in the ass and advertise to the neighborhood that free gas cards are distributed from our front door. I wish this was easier – I wish that we could just give with a smile on our faces and a warm feeling in our hearts.
What would you do?
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