Christmas patrol 12/22/11

It’s been a busy season. And a pretty meager one. My “Geist” bank account has been pretty low for awhile and I hadn’t done a great job of gradually building it up with small deposits. But I figured I could swing a hundred bucks or so. At least it’s something. But between work and some personal stuff keeping me busy, I also hadn’t gotten around to buying toys for charities yet.
Lately though, I have been thinking a lot about the concepts of random acts of kindness and paying it forward to a complete stranger. It seems a lot more people have lately. I mean, look at the video that Thanatos linked to recently if you haven’t seen it already:
Plus, people across the country have been going into stores like Kmart that have layaway plans and paying on the accounts of complete strangers. According to newspapers, the internet and tv, it’s a nation-wide phenomena and it’s also happened in my city a couple of times. The store tries to choose someone deserving to whom to allocate the funds. This is the sort of positivity that a lot of us have been wanting to encourage for a long time. And it’s happening! This is the sort of thing that I also wanted to do.
I started out the morning swinging through Burger King before work. I paid for my breakfast with exact change, but still had money in my pocket. I took out a $10 and handed it to the cashier after I paid. I said, “I’d like you to put this toward whoever comes up after me. This Christmas, I’m paying it forward. Use it until it’s gone.” I figured it might brighten someone’s morning. Maybe a couple of people.
After work, I made a withdrawl from my account and gotten a crisp $100 bill. geared up in a “Geist-lite” mode. Black jeans instead of cargo pants. A pair of cowboy boots instead of the urban ones. No gauntlets. I was trying to seem non-threatening. And I loaded the vehicle with food and supplies I’d been building up for the homeless. Industrial-size cans of corn, beans and some other things.
I went to Kmart and stood in line as people stared at me. A clerk became available and said that she could help me. I made a point of having the $100 in my hand even before I entered the store. I realize I appear weird and I didn’t want anyone to think I was there to rob the place. I handed her the bill and asked if she could put it toward someone’s layaway account. It took her a few seconds for her to understand and I had to repeat myself, but she eventually recognized what I was doing and said that I’d have to talk to the store manager. I was getting uncomfortable because, like a ghost (Geist), I really don’t like to hang around in public longer than necessary. I asked her if she would please do that for me and went for the exit. She went toward the manager and yelled above all of the chaotic noise, “Thank you!!” I said “You’re welcome.” and left.
Then I was on my way to our local homeless shelter, the Dorothy Day House. As I was unloading my goods, I saw a proper and well-dressed lady walking to the door carrying a crate of peaches. I said, “It looks like we have similar ideas.” She smiled and knocked on the door and stood there. When I got to the door I said, “In my experiences here, you can just go right in.” and we did. The guy at the front desk ushered us to another room and a lady asked if we were together, to which we said, “No.” I waited for her to speak to the familiar lady and tell her who she was and where she got her donations (there were more boxes to come from her). Then it was my turn and I gave my spiel. “I’m Geist and I’m a Real-Life Superhero.” to which the Proper Lady laughed. The familiar lady said, “Yes, I know. We’ve met here before, haven’t we?” I said yes and she showed me where I could put my donations.
On my way out, I saw the Proper Lady with another box and asked if she needed any help. She said, “No, but thank you, Geist.”
I drove away smiling and onto a short meandering street patrol before heading home without further incident. It was a fun and rewarding day.
-Now I’ve got to work on that “Geist account.”