I was standing in a line counting and re-counting the money I had in my wallet. It’s a little OCD game I play within the confines of my own mind. I begin by checking my wallet and extracting all my money, then realizing that I can’t carry it properly in my hand, I return the money. A second later, I freak myself out wondering where my money went, check the wallet and repeat until I drive myself completely bonkers and wonder what the use is of hands. I mean, human beings are made up so awkwardly, right? Our limbs are all gawky and weird and I never know how to stand with themjust hanging about. If I lie down, I never know where my arms should go. Do I tuck them under me? No, wait that hurts and then my fingers go numb. But what can you do but curl them up and over? That, or just leave them at your sides which only works if you’re laying down. It doesn’t work if you’re standing upright. I marvel at retarded thoughts like these that plague my brain. Leaves little room for more important things. Really.
So anyway, I was fanning the singles and saw that I didn’t have more than four dollars in my hand at any given moment. I counted. I re-counted and re-verified over and over and was sure that I had counted correctly. Just at the moment when I moved up in the line, I saw a svelte blonde not particularly tall, but definitely well-dressed go up to the cash register and while she did so, she dropped a 20 dollar bill. She began a little small talk conversation with the girl at the register and hadn’t noticed that her 20 dollars was just sitting there. Within minutes, a gentleman passing by her in the opposite direction, picked up the bill and asked her if she had dropped it. Unflinchingly, she grabbed hold of the twenty and didn’t even act as though she would’ve missed the bill. She took it in her hand, handed it as payment for her meal, and returned it to a small wad of twenty dollar bills which she held in her hand. She, unlike me, didn’t appear awkward or confused at all. She didn’t miss the money. And if she did, she didn’t act like it. But you see, that’s where she and I differed. Knowing what it’s like to miss something of value, I felt shock that this woman behaved so calmly. But this woman is probably bred to behave evenly without desperation. It made me wonder why, then, I consider it acceptable to lose my cool and show people outwardly what’s going on inwardly. It is part of the reason why the conception of wealth is so prominent; if money isn’t missed when lost, then the viewer attributes this action as a sign of power.
Case in point: a few years ago, I was having some money troubles when a collection was going around for someone in the hospital. I gave, but as I did so, I thought it important to mention that I was giving “even though I couldn’t really afford it.” That’s when someone called me out and said that I was being rude because no one could afford it. That incident made me realize what it was to donate in a classy way versus a non-classy way. By calling attention to my need to supersede someone else’s need, I cheapened the act of donating to a cause. In addition, I made myself appear as though I were heartless for thinking selfishly about monetary issues while someone was suffering physically. Nowadays, I don’t give if I don’t value the cause and only if I know that I really can’t afford it. It avoids me being hypocritical and calling myself out as an ingrate. I’d much rather be called a cheapskate. Keeping up appearances isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Still, the true act of giving is more than just giving money. In exchange, you can offer time or help or some other means to assist that is less easy than digging in the wallet. At the same time you can show your true colors as a humanitarian. Not everyone can be Mrs. Moneybags, after all. But at least they can be Miss Congeniality.