I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things. It cost me $2,500.

While I was there I bumped into a good friend, chatted a while and then we went our separate ways.

As I was leaving she called out from the coffee shop inside the store. She waved me over, looking urgent. We sat down at a table. I figured she wanted to vent or better yet, gossip.

Her eyes welled up. My heart sank. Was she getting a divorce? Had she been diagnosed with cancer? Were her kids in trouble?

“Can I borrow $2,500?” she asked, and dissolved into tears.

I was stunned. One of my peers was begging for money.

“Please,” she sobbed. “Don’t tell anyone.”

I haven’t and I won’t. Ever. This was four years ago. We never talked about it again. I had just one stipulation: this was a gift, not a loan. I didn’t want our relationship to strain under the weight of obligation.

From what I can tell all is well now. I suppose my gift helped them through a rough spot but I think it helped me more. I’m grateful that someone in crisis felt comfortable turning to me (and of course I’m grateful our situation allowed me to help).

While I revel in snarky banter, the experience instilled in me a humble spirit, and a reminder to be kind. I wonder how much silent hurt and fear lurk out here in the land of bonus rooms and three-car garages.

You never know what people are going through. You just never know.

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