A couple of days ago, I emptied all the loose change from my wallet. It was getting unwieldy and difficult to close, and I figured I didn’t really need all those quarters, nickels and dimes. I had some bills, I’d be fine.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon helping Cindy get ready to move all her worldly possessions to Pittsburgh, where she’s recently started grad school. I took her to pick up the rental truck and then ran off to Wawa to get some lunch, planning to meet her back at her house. All of the free spots in front were taken, so I went a little further down, finding a metered spot half a block away. I parallel parked easily and was grabbing my stuff when I realized that I had absolutely no money with which to feed the meter. My practicality in emptying my wallet had totally failed me.
I dug around the car for a moment, hoping to find a spare quarter, but I knew that unless my sister left something around when she borrowed the car last month, I wasn’t going to find anything. Living in the city, I try not keep anything in my car that would motivate someone to break into it and spare change is included in this category. I did find a few pennies, but they were of no help when it came to the parking meter.
Getting out of the car, I walked over to the meter, hoping that by some miracle of timing, it would have something in the neighborhood of ten minutes, which would be enough time for me to run in and out of Wawa. It had a single minute left of paid-for time, which was not enough for my purposes.
Parked behind me was an electrical repair van, with two guys sitting in the front seats. Their windows were down, and they were finishing up a late lunch. I debated for a second, before stopping beside the passenger window and said,
“Excuse me. I hate to ask you this, but do you possibly have a dime or quarter I could use? I have absolutely no change and really don’t want to get a parking ticket.”
Before I had even finished my request, they were both digging around the van, checking to see if there were any coins laying around. The younger guy, who was sitting in the passenger seat closest to me said,
“Just a second, I think I have some change in my pocket.”
He levered his hips up off the seat so he could dig, and came out with a few quarters and a dime.
“Take a quarter.”
I thanked him profusely while he grinned at me shyly, deposited the quarter into the meter (glimpsing the parking authority man just up the street) and headed into the store for a turkey sandwich and a couple of bottles of iced tea. While in there, I also grabbed a couple of peanut chews, as a thank you for the generosity. Neither of the guys were in the van when I got back out there, so I tucked the candies under their windshield wipers and went on my way.
For a moment I didn’t feel like I was in Philadelphia I experience so often anymore, but instead in a city where people are generous and look out for each other. It was a nice feeling.
It is nice – the little things. Chances are, it probably made them feel as good as it made you feel. Helping someone and feeling good about it for twenty-five cents.
It’s a real bargain.
Oh, what a feel-good story. I just hope the peanut chews were still there when the guys returned.
… or that they hadn’t melted completely 😉
What a nice story. I encounter similar small doses of generosity more often than one might suspect in a city like Philadelphia. I know our fair hometown has a reputation for gruffness and inconsiderate behavior, but in my experience that’s more of a mass perception – the same way everyone around the country berates Philly sports fans as mean-spirited when at least half of the Philly fans I’ve met are much kinder than outsiders tend to think.
But then, I guess you’re not so much an outsider. Still, it’s good that someone’s documenting more than just the “black eye” moments in Philly’s cityscape.
So I guess if Phila had the new meter/kiosks that accept bills and credit cards, you wouldn’t have had this experience. On the other hand, alot fewer frustated parkers out there…
well I hope you left a number with said peanut chews. I do understand the change thing, though that is the reason i always park in a garage when downtown