This is For Her

by the Michigan Father
December, 2011

This is for her

Michigan. Times are tough, especially in small areas. I drove to a blighted part of the city with boarded-up homes. We were five months behind on electric payments and I’d been calling to delay the shut-off for one more week. Twice they delayed payment.

At the zeroth hour I pulled up to the building, preceded by a black woman driving a rusted, crumbling beater that shuddered to a stop. I walked in behind her, cash in hand, and waited in line. My children bounced on chairs nearby.

Two women behind bulletproof acrylic windows took money. But only one line moved. Delaying the other was a long conversation from a young white mother with a baby on her hip. She wore pajamas and a sweater, was good-natured and laughing.

“Well, so…” she said, “you know how it is. I mean, they just sit there in a pile, right? I don’t know where they go. I don’t know, I probably lost it.”

The woman behind the two-inch thick bulletproof Plexiglas nodded, unspeaking. Her nameplate said “Ella”.

The young patron continued,” I mean, I GUESS the payment plan is good. But that’s… how much again??”

“Fifty dollars,” the woman behind the Plexiglas prompted.

The young mother said, “Yeah… fifty. Dollars, I mean. And if we miss that today then what? Fifty?”

Ella confirmed, “Yes, fifty. The payment plan we arranged.”

“Boy, how could it be so much?” A long pause. “So what happens if we don’t have the…?”

Ella: “Fifty dollars. Well, that’s when the account needs to be discontinued.”

The woman with the baby on her hip looked at the floor during the whole conversation. Talking in a low voice, but in a silent room of people waiting. She talked as though every second she talked was another second the power stayed on. As though somehow in this circular conversation the situation would resolve itself.

Momentarily irritated that one woman was taking so much time, I then felt some shame. I’d just wait calmly. Clearly the young woman with the baby was just buying time. Seconds. Moments. Avoiding the inevitable: her power would be shut off in the morning.

Slowly the line crawled. My children became more animated and impatient. The woman with the baby kept talking.

Then the woman in front of me went up to the counter — the woman who drove the rusted beater. She handed the teller a check. “This is for her,” and pointed at the young mother with the baby.

The woman who wrote the check left. She bee-lined to her beater and drove off. The two tellers looked at one another confused. One said to the young mother, “Well, I guess, Merry Christmas.”

The woman with the baby looked at the floor, “I don’t think she pointed at me. I don’t know her.”

“She paid your electric bill,” said a teller. “Next!”

And the people in line who’d been staring blankly burst out in a joyous murmur.

Originally published as HeroicStories #849 on April 26, 2012

6 thoughts on “This is For Her”

  1. Sometime we are the one who can help someone in need and sometime we are the one who is the person in need. Life is unexpected but being able to be generous is always a huge gift to the giver.

  2. My Goodness! All your stories are encouraging and positive, but “This is For Her” is truly extraordinary.

    Thanks for repeating it.

  3. This seems to be the 2015 version of the Good Samaritan and the Widow’s Mite combined into one story. How wonderful to show love and mercy when you know that the person has no resources to repay the loan. Lots of spiritual lessons to be learned in this touching story. I would love to read more like this.

  4. Clearly the woman in front of the narrator, was there for the same reason, to pay her own $ 50 to forestall her own power cut off. Perhaps she had a little more lead time and felt that the young mother was more in need of her $ 50 than she was.

  5. What a heartwarming story! I wonder why the woman who paid left? Had she paid her own bill?

    Thank you for re-posting this! I sometimes pay for the person behind me in a drive-through. I don’t know my neighbor, but I think I paid for his meal, as I had told the teller to stall the person behind me so I could leave, and I headed back home quickly. A happened to notice the neighbor pull into his driveway, and he was wearing a distinctive beany – similar to the one I saw behind me in the car. And the car kinda looked the same. He and I had some differences years ago, because he kept parking his large dumptruck and trailered excavator on the street next to my property, and across from his house – for security purposes (he has cameras there). He worked for a company that was blamed for the Paradise fire and was helping with cleanup, and I told him that was nice, but city ordinances don’t allow parking of commercial equipment in residential streets.

    I sometimes hope he knew it was me and that we could break the ice a bit. He hasn’t said anything. Maybe two stubborn neighbors not willing to reach out to one another.

    Thank you again for your ongoing posts!


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