October 17th. My 17th hundred. Halloween decorations peppering the neighborhood remind me how soon the month will be over. Already I can say that this process has been a success. I am changed – more aware, more open hearted, and in general more generous.  I have heard from others that they have been inspired, and I have seen a look of  surprise, joy and relief on the faces of over a dozen strangers.

We went to see the movie RED today. Great fun, as anything featuring Helen Mirren and Mary Louise Parker would have to be! John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and the Russian guys weren’t bad either. While we were at the mall I saw Alberto, who got a C-note on the 10th. I kept my distance.

As we were leaving the parking lot a driver gestured politely, yielding the right of way. I made note of his old car and two young kids in the back seat. I abruptly circled back and spotted the back of the car just as the three of them were getting out. I pulled over and jumped out, chasing them across the street.

“Excuse me!” The man turned and smiled, holding the door of Barnes and Noble open for me. I went in, then thanked him for being so polite in the parking lot. “Oh, it’s nothing”, he said. “We all have to do what we can, you know, take care of each other on the road.”  The kids were watching quietly. I gave the brief version of my spiel and handed Dad the $100.

“Are you sure?”, he asked. “Are you sure?” I told him I was. “I chased you down, didn’t I?” He laughed and asked my name, then introduced himself and his two children, ages 4 and 9. He shook my hand and said he’s a teacher at Head Start. And that he would do something nice for the kids with the money. The 9 year old boy was grinning from ear to ear. I was happy for him to see this strange white lady do something nice for his Dad.

It’s striking how consistently people have a ready explanation for their kindness as if they, too, are just looking for opportunities to reach out with a generous gesture.