31 Cents, a Coffee & a Kind Stranger

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I have had an income since I was 13. I have had a pay cheque, my own bank account and never relied on anyone else for money. Finances/money one of those topics you don’t share with others, it’s taboo.

I am starting to get into a new financial groove, embracing my new role in the household.

This story is hard to share but I feel it’s important to do so for many reasons. We’ve all been there at some point. This was a few months ago and it has made me a stronger person because of it.

I went to go buy cheese at the grocery store. It has been a challenging day with the kids, my coffee was still in the microwave (for the third time), I woke up a little late, therefore I was already 10 steps behind. I bring my purchase to the counter and DECLINED! The last time I read those words on a screen, I was in my first year of university, learning money lessons the hard way. I panicked. I was embarrassed. There, of course, was a line. I opened my mouth and I lied, “Oh, we just switched banks. I guess something is wrong with the account.” Everyone knew I was lying. I wanted to run out of the store, but I held my head high and walked out with my kids. The minute I was through the doors the tears started to flow.

We were standing outside, my daughter singing to her brother. I checked my account.

$.031

My heart sunk. Then my stomach started to turn. I started to sob.

A woman came over to me, asked if I was OK. I tried to downplay the situation, but mascara was running by this point.

“Oh yes, Thank you. Just having a rough day.”
I didn’t want to unload on this kind stranger. She smiled a very warm and comforting smile.
She replied, “We all have tough days.” She carried on her way.

I collected myself a bit. I started to load my son into the car, naturally, he fought me. I started to cry again. I felt so silly for crying, but it was the only thing I had control over at that moment. I wrangled my daughter and got strapped in. I envied her in that moment, singing away, smiling, not a care in the world.

I closed the door, I stood at the back of the car. I needed a moment. I wiped away the mascara that had run down my face. I looked up and saw the kind women who had asked if I was OK earlier. She was walking back towards me.

“We all need a little help from time to time. I have 4 boys, I know it can be tough sometimes.”
I smiled. I couldn’t form words. Her kindness had brought the lump back into my throat and I was about to start crying again. She seemed to understand this.
“It’s OK to fall, you just need to remember to get back up!”
She continued to talk and tell me a little bit about herself. While she was talking, I realised I wasn’t alone. She too had fallen and recognised that in me.

I still hadn’t managed to utter a word. I smiled. I was so grateful for this woman standing in front of me right now. A total stranger and I was so happy she was there helping me keep it together.

“Here”, she said handing me a coffee. “I hope this brightens up your day a little bit.” I barely got a thank you out. She smiled at me. I hugged her. I am not a hugger but this felt totally appropriate.

This woman was exactly who I needed in that moment. I didn’t want my friend or family to see the mess that I had become in that moment. This stranger saw me and didn’t pity me, she related to me.

I felt a little bit better, but I still only had $0.31 in my account. When I returned to a level head, I realise that all my bills were paid for that month, full tank of gas, and food in the fridge (minus the cheese), a roof over our heads. We were just fine. We were going to be OK. It was really hard to see $0.31 in my account

It was really hard to see $0.31 in my account and it made me realise that life is going to be different, I don’t have a ‘disposable’ income so to speak. Life isn’t like it once was. We all have to make sacrifices, some are easy, while other take a little time to come to terms with.

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I am still grateful for the kind women in the parking lot. When I see a Mum having a tough time, I let her know she isn’t alone, sometimes that’s all you need – to know you’re not alone.

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2 thoughts on “31 Cents, a Coffee & a Kind Stranger

  1. Beautiful. We all have those times. My car ran out of gas the other day on the highway with my kids in the car! We only needed to get to the next exit and there was a gas station RIGHT there. And I had….quarters. It’s not always this hard – I lost my job when I was taking care of my dad so I had to learn how to re-budget on virtually no budget, but it get’s better. That’s really all I wanted to say through my ramble – It gets better. And even though it’s on the other side of the computer screen, we’re here for you too! Sending love your way! ❤ ❤

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