Spare Change

My morning routine includes stopping at the local convenient store to pick up the daily news. One morning not long ago, the convenience of the convenient store proved inconvenient to the folks stuck in line behind two small boys. As I approached the counter to pay the attendant, I noticed the two little guys standing at the front of the line - a line that was growing longer by the minute. The young man behind the counter was clearly agitated with the boys as his voice rose above the morning chatter in the store and he said to them, "Look, you guys need nineteen cents more to pay for this candy. If you don't have it, you don't get it. Now, what are you going to do?"

I watched, as the small boys seemed to shuffle from one foot to another without uttering a word, just staring at the attendant, their wide eyes filling with tears. The folks waiting impatiently in line began to complain loudly, "Let's go fellas!" Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed to intervene on their behalf.

"I've got the nineteen cents," I shouted above the noise and commotion. "Take this dollar for my paper and keep the change towards their candy." The attendant seemed relieved to have the matter settled. Everyone in the line turned to eyeball the loud-mouthed lady with the exception of the two small boys who quickly snatched the candy and exited the store.

I handed over the dollar, smiled at the attendant and left. As I made my way to my car, a small voice called out to me, "Hey, Lady!" I turned to see one of the boys peering from around the corner of the building. "That was pretty cool!"

He was gone. I suppose it was a "thank you" of sorts and I was content to think that I would be the topic of their small conversation that morning. I was the "cool lady" who saved the day by paying for their candy in an otherwise hectic and uncaring world. I imagined them giving each other high-fives in my memory. It made me smile to think that my small gesture had brightened their little world, if only for a moment.

By the time that I arrived at my own store, I was basking in my good deed and wanted to share my story with my customers. When I finished telling the story to a small group of girls, one of my customers turned towards me and said, "I like to do little things like that, too. When I stop to get my morning coffee, everyday, I place a penny in the parking lot or on the sidewalk - heads-up. Sometimes I sit in my car and watch to see if anyone finds it. It always makes people smile and it makes my day, too. I've been doing it for years now."

I couldn't speak. It does make you smile to find a penny heads-up in the parking lot. Maybe I had been one of the recipients of her gift. She shyly admitted that she hadn't told a single soul before today. How Christ-like is that? And here I was, bragging about my generosity. The bible tells us to do good deeds without fanfare and acknowledgment. I humbled myself and decided to forego sharing my morning episode with anyone else. It would be between God and me. That afternoon on my way home, I stopped to get a coffee at the local donut shop. As I left the store, I noticed a shiny heads-up penny on the sidewalk. Instead of bending down to pick it up, I knelt and placed a penny next to it. Heads-up, of course. After all, pennies are gifts from angels and angels always smile when we share our spare change.

Michele Starkey copyright 2003

Michele Starkey is an Apprentice in the Jerry Jenkins' Christian Writer's Guild. Michele suffered and survived a ruptured brain aneurysm, 4 years ago and by the grace of God and the help of her family, she was able to return to her position as a medical product manager for a highly successful medical corporation. In 2000 Michele and her sister opened a women-only exercise franchise. You can read her other article, "A Slave to Priorities" on the Sermon Illustrator website at

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