Recycling Compassion

Sometimes, no, frequently, life really amazes me. One of the reasons I've never been a suicidal sort is because I know that things always get better. Not in a linear sense, but cyclical. When things are bad, they eventually get better. Then they'll get bad again, and then better. I've recognized this rhythm from an early age and it has helped me to hang on when others have cashed in their chips to take their meager winnings home...

I've made no secret of the fact that we've been stone broke and that eating has become a major issue in our home. The past two weeks have been especially terrifying, because we were down to next-to-nothing. During the daytimes I changed my attitude and called it fasting, leaving what little we had for Nettl, who works, and Joel, who, due to health issues, falls seriously ill if he doesn't get some kind of nutrition.

Last Monday I finally began looking around for something, anything, that I could sell just to get a few groceries to tide us over until the first of the month. That's when I realized we had a minivan in the drive that hasn't run in months. The engine and body were great; all it needed was a fan belt, a battery, and two new tires (even if we could have afforded to have those things fixed, we couldn't afford the insurance). I put an ad on Craigslist and it was sold within 20 minutes for $200. Not much, but hey, that's a lot of groceries for us these days.

The kid who wanted to buy it was very sweet, but he lives about 30 miles away and couldn't get here until this weekend. I had plenty of other offers, but something kept telling me to hold out for him, that he was the one who was supposed to buy the car, although, for us, it meant nearly another week without any real food.

He showed up yesterday, exactly at the time we'd specified, and began working on the van. He put it up on jacks and removed the bad tires, replaced the belt and the battery. He asked if he could keep the van here until next week, when a friend can bring him down to pick it up and I said sure, no problem. He gave me the cash, then took the title to Nettl, who signed the car over to him. He couldn't have been any older than 21.

But here comes the good part. While with Nettl, he told her that he'd been looking for a minivan to fix up so that he could give it to a young family in need, who has to get to Florida for a job, and he couldn't believe it when he saw my ad. This family has two small children and a baby on the way, and no car. We needed food. A win/win situation all around implemented by this generous guy sporting a scruffy goatee. What feels wonderful for me is that, in our own need we were the answer to someone else's. I prefer to think that we had to go through our ordeal so that someone else's could end.

I don't want to hear about how selfish young people are these days; I've had plenty of experiences that show me otherwise. In his compassion, this young man set out to help one family and in the process he helped two. I'm still amazed at how this happened.