Thursday, October 6, 2011

How trash-picked bikes can change the world. Or at least, make my day.

Sometimes giving really isn't giving at all. It's being a selfish part of a moment that really took little effort, time, etc.  But it can still feel really, really good in a way that only helping others can truly do for the spirit.

Yesterday, we were doing errands back by our winter rental from last year.  When we moved, we'd left two outgrown bikes at the indoor bike rack, hoping someone could use them.  One was trash-picked by my father-in-law and one I bought at Goodwill for $5.  Both were too small for the boys now, but were still in good condition.

I realized mid-summer that they might just rot there, since I hadn't put a FREE sign or anything on them.  Since we were back that way, I swung by to see if they were still there.  They were. 

So, I loaded them in the back of my car and decided to donate them somewhere.

Later that day, I was sitting outside of Peter's apartment, waiting for him to get home so I could drop off some things for him.  He lives at an apartment complex that includes other Sudanese refugee families -- some whom I know, others I don't. 

While waiting in my car with the kids, I watched a man and his toddler son for a while.  The father was warm and kind with his son, both of them laughing, as he watched his son run around an open space in the parking lot.  

Suddenly, I realized I had these bikes in the back of my car, and went over to him.  He spoke little English, but understood "bike" - and let me know that no, they didn't have one.  So I took out the one meant for a 2-3 year old and gave it to his son.

I will never forget the sweet joy in the boy's little face as he climbed on the bike and started pedaling. 

I said to the dad: "I have another bike.  Big bike.  You know a big boy with no bike?"

He shook his head no, but at that same moment, an older gentleman was walking by us and had been listening to the situation.  "There's a lot of kids here with no bike. I'll make sure it gets a good home."  I was overwhelmed by his goodness, just in that brief moment. 

Trying to not show him I was tearing up, I pulled out the other bike and handed it to him.  Thanked him.  And then felt sheepish when he told me that was generous of me. 

Because really, it wasn't. 

The sum total of the bikes was $5. I'd left them for dead at the old condo building. And I was there only to drop off something for Peter.

And yet, that situation burned into me.  I felt an overwhelming urge to run out and collect all those $5 bikes I see at thrift stores, pass them out at underprivileged apartment complexes. Now, I understand how easily these moments in life can happen.

Sometimes, life gives you exactly the moment you need. Even when you don't deserve it.