Day 4 of 31 October days. October, my Month of Hundreds.

I spent almost the whole day in either a building or my car, and I was starting to wonder how I was going to pull off my $100 give. This afternoon I drove down Stark Street into Gresham. That is one sad trek past pawn shops, trailer parks, boarded up motels, strip malls, strip joints and used car lots. There were people about, but I didn’t want to just whip over to the curb, screech to a halt and jump out with the dough. I was looking to make a connection.

I really didn’t need to go into Grocery Outlet but, when I got back to Portland, I drove right by it and found myself pulling around into the parking lot. It’s kind of a fascinating place, with a noteworthy mix of brand name products and oddball knockoffs. I wandered around for a while, looking at all the stuff on the shelves. I watched two cute Spanish-speaking kids with their parents, who were cheerfully making a selection from the ground meat area.

Then I saw a tall, lean, young man with a ponytail puff of curly hair. He was headed away from me down the aisle and I slipped into the next aisle thinking I might bump into him. I saw him turn the corner and head in my direction. The carefree yet earnest way he carried himself reminded me a little of my older son, Aaron. He was clearly stocking up on some necessities, and I watched him put a bunch of cans from a low shelf into his cart.

I waited until no one else was nearby and then walked over to him. I said hello and he gave me a broad smile. He kept smiling as I launched into my pitch: “This might sound a little strange…”. “OK”, he said, “I’m prepared.” “Are you sure?”, I asked. “I think so!”, he said, the faintest shadow of concern flickering across his face. I told him what I was doing and handed him the $100 bill.

“Wow!”, he said. “This is so weird. I mean, this is amazing! I can’t believe this! Wow!” He told me he had just moved into a new place, was looking for a job and was really short on cash. He said he felt like he had just entered a parallel universe. Then he stuck his hand out and said, “Hi. My name is Colin.” He wanted to know more about me and what I was doing and said I could take his picture and put it on the blog. I showed him the picture and we both laughed at the “FRESH MEAT” sign in the background. He asked if he could give me a hug. Then he said, “I wish you much good fortune and blessings”. That was very sweet and kind of funny, because it was just what I was hoping for for him.

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