Last week I wanted to pay it forward to some of you since you have all given so much to Noah and me recently. So, at the end of the post about the Fish girls, I wrote the following:
I hope you’ll also permit me to do what I originally wanted to do this Christmas.
My first advertising check doesn’t come in until January. But, remember that money on top of the fridge that I already spent?
Well, underneath that money was a fridge. A big, fat, stainless steel, beautiful empty fridge.
And since the place Noah and I just moved into comes with a fridge already, I sold that big empty fridge. I got $500 bucks for it. And I want to give it to you.
So, I will give it to five random people who fill out this form and tell me that one hundred dollars will make Christmas possible this year. I will send five people a check for $100.00. I’m talking about people who really need it. Parents who usually don’t know how they’ll buy their next meal let alone a gift for their child on Christmas. If you fit into that category, please fill out this form.
I did it the way I did it very much on purpose. I really didn’t want to make a big hullabaloo about it, and I didn’t want it to be that big of a deal. It was just my chance to give a little something back. That was it. So, I tacked it to the end of something else much more important.
What I couldn’t believe was some of the responses to that part of the post. I still don’t fully understand it.
I’m going to shoot out a number, and I want you to take notice of the first thing that goes through your head.
That’s how many families filled out the form, asking to be considered for one of the $100.00 checks.
One hundred eighty eight.
That is a lot.
Now I want to put out two more numbers.
That is the number of people who sent me a personal email saying that it was a great thing to do. (Which was more than okay. I certainly wasn’t looking for that.)
That is the number of people who sent me personal emails saying this (more or less):
Hey Dan, I don’t think that you are going about this $500 thing the right way at all. Anybody could fill out the form and you don’t really know if they are in need or not. I think at the very least, they should have to write a paragraph that says why they are deserving of the money and then you share the stories of those people you help on your blog. That would make me feel a lot better about it.
And, like I said, that response confuses me.
Not blindly trusting in the good of others confuses me.
I remember when I was married to wife #2, I had had a really good run of luck at my retail store. I had made a lot of money shortly before Christmas. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do to give some of it back, and while many charities stood out as worthwhile and incredible, there was something else I really felt an urge to do instead.
So, I went to the bank and withdrew two-thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills. My wife and I made four plates of cookies, wrapped them in foil, put five hundred dollars each into four different Christmas cards, taped them to the top of the foil, and drove around town looking at the different houses of people we didn’t know. We went through nice neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. Well kept areas and run down areas. And in the end, we picked four random houses to leave that money, all of which just felt to us like they really could use it.
A couple of the houses were nice houses. A couple of them were pretty derelict. In the end, we just went with our guts, set the plates on the porch, rang the doorbell, and took off. We never knew what happened to those plates of cookies or the money, we just knew that we had a blast doing it.
Inside of each Christmas card we had written the following (or something real close to it): “To our dear friends that we have never met. We don’t know why we felt a strong feeling that we were to leave this money on your doorstep, but we did. If you are in need of this money, please use it however you like. If you believe others might need this money more than you do, please pass this plate to somebody who you either know needs it, or to a random home that you somehow feel needs it. We know this money will make it to the place that needs it most. Merry Christmas, and we love you.”
Now, I’ve never really told anybody that we did that.
And I don’t tell you this to toot my own horn. Heavens no. In fact, I expect many of you to tell me that you think it was reckless and stupid. How do we know some teenager didn’t answer the door and pocket the money? How could we not give it to an organization that we knew would use it properly? What if the people who got it were just greedy, shameless people with plenty of money who then just pocketed it all?
The answer is, I didn’t care, and I still don’t.
I enjoy showing blind faith in the goodness and honesty of others sometimes. In fact, I really enjoy it. It helps me make decisions and live my life based on the goodness of others instead of on the supposed evil that lies in everyone.
I live in the same world all of you do. I live with the same people. I watch the news most nights, and I see greed, corruption, dishonesty, and horribleness all over the place. It is so easy to get caught up thinking that just about everybody is dishonest and conniving.
And then I think about the fact that I live in this world. Me. Yours truly. A person that I believe is pretty trustworthy.
And my son lives in this world.
And all my friends live in this world.
And my family members live in this world.
And all the people that I love live in this world.
And I trust all of them. There isn’t one person in my life that I distrust.
There also isn’t one person who comes to read this blog who I distrust. Not one.