Every day, everywhere he goes his pockets are full of Eisenhower dollars ready to be given to just about anyone he meets. His goal is to bring out a smile and make a momentary yet memorable connection with people we often don’t acknowledge—waiters, cashiers, receptionists, tourists, people at the next table in a restaurant, those walking by us, business owners struggling during difficult times. He does not forget that family and friends can also feel taken for granted and that a sign of appreciation can lift their hearts. The Dollar Man, as he is called, is Bob and he happens to be my husband, the most generous person I know. For years I have witnessed people who are stressed, unhappy or just having a bad day light up, share a personal story, and give him heartfelt thanks. I have heard them exclaim with tears in their eyes how they will never forget him, how he has made their day better, how he has made a difference in their lives. Just the other day when we were visiting a doctor for the first time, the receptionist was very professional, which means that she was efficient yet somewhat detached as she worked through the papers we had filled out. Although she had glanced at us, there was no real connection…until Bob gave her the coin. Like most people, the first comment is, “What is this?” He then responds, “This is for you, for good luck.” As tears welled up in her eyes she recounted how her father had given her coins that she had saved for years and how those coins had disappeared, possibly stolen by a family member. It was apparent that this coin she now held in her hand brought back a wonderful memory of her father and eased some of the pain of that loss. It is really amazing how many people tell Bob that their fathers or grandfathers gave them these coins and how precious it is to recall that memory. This happens to be the case with our insurance agent who cries every time she receives a coin because it reminds her of her beloved grandfather. Then there is the owner of our favorite Korean restaurant. Her business has not been going well but every time Bob puts that coin in her hand, she give us many of those gracious Korean bows, expressing deep gratitude for his caring. She tells us that this “lucky” coin gives her hope for the future. To be able to give hope to someone by such a small gift is truly rewarding. However, I didn’t always feel that way. When my husband first started doing this many years ago, frankly, I was concerned about the cost and whether this special gift should be given out so freely, perhaps to someone who may not appreciate it. Not fully conscious of the law of Giceiving then, I did not recognize the joy Bob was experiencing when he let people know they mattered. I finally learned that lesson one morning while we were having breakfast at a restaurant and I happened to look over at the next table that was being cleaned off by an older employee. Her face had beautiful character lines that made me understand how hard she had worked her whole life and how much care she put into her work, including cleaning that table. My heart was moved to let her know how much I appreciated her, so I asked Bob for a coin. When I gave it to her it was as though we were connected heart to heart, and it was I who wanted to cry!
Through my Dollar Man I have learned that every day we have so many opportunities to gladden someone else’s life with gestures that say, “I see you. I acknowledge you and you matter.” In return, we receive something truly precious–a heartfelt connection with those who share this planet with us.
PS: If you are one of the hundreds of individuals who have been gladdened by the Dollar Man’s giving, please share your story with us.
Update on the Dollar Man: The doctor entered the room where Bob was being prepared for surgery carrying a small wooden box he said he always brought with him when he was operating. With a big smile he opened it up to show us all the “lucky charms” his patients had given him throughout the years. Of course, Bob’s contribution was right on top. The “lucky” dollar (not to mention the many prayers of those who know him) apparently did its job because the operation was such a success that Bob was well enough to be released the very next day. As he was getting ready to leave, the janitor peeked into the room and asked if Bob was leaving. When we said that he was, he stated, “What a shame. You’re going to be missed! You and your coins.” There was no way Bob would have gone to the hospital without his coins! His waking time in the Recovery Room and in the Intensive Care Unit had been dedicated to chatting with the staff, asking them about their lives, their families, their jobs, and giving each one a coin. Despite the fact he had just had a very serious operation, his love for people had taken over and once again he had made an impact on their lives. How fortunate I am to continually witness the healing power of love being giceived!