Giving Money to Strangers

After watching the shit-show that was the first Presidential Debate, I visited the Joe Biden campaign site and donated money. At the age of 37, this was the first time I’ve ever donated money to a presidential or any political campaign. During Obama’s first campaign, I didn’t have a steady job, working odd writing gigs here and there. For his 2012 re-election, I was working part-time and a new father. I don’t want to talk about Hillary Clinton – I voted for her and believe she would have handled the position better than Donald Trump has and I’ll leave it that.

There was a sense of accomplishment donating the money. It wasn’t a lot – $25 – because I still have bills to pay, a child to feed, and happy little accidents that arise each and every day (I type this while staring daggers at my broken washer). But I did something else that night, too. I ordered this cuddly little guy for a complete stranger. A content creator, someone whose existence I know about but who wouldn’t know me from Adam. She’s been going through a rough patch, having split from her significant other. And maybe that tugged at my heartstrings a bit too hard. Maybe because it was relatable. I know a stuffed animal isn’t a cure all, but it’s an effort to bring a smile to someone’s face.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. During my LiveJournal days, I purchased a Bob Marley poster for a girl I met online. The only difference between then and now is that Bob Marley girl and I interacted with each other.

Before you think that there’s a pattern here – that I only buy gifts for random girls – I’d like to add that I also support male content creators as well, typically through Twitch and Patreon. And before the Internet dominated my gift-giving world, I also gave to those in need who approached me on the street (something I still do). These are people I’ve never met in person or will never see again.

I don’t do it for some almighty purpose, some wish fulfillment for my end of days; I do it because it makes me smile, makes me feel good. I do it because I can afford to sometimes. Nothing is expected in return, but should the receiver pay it forward then what’s the harm?

A part of me wants the world to understand that we’re in this together. That in order for our species to continue on and thrive, we have to have each other’s backs. And it doesn’t have to be some major charity – it can be as simple as giving a complete stranger a gift or money.

I’ll end this with a memory. A few years ago, when Shaun was still small enough for me to carry everywhere, we were in a convenience store where I made an attempt to buy him some Cheeto Puffs (his favorite snack at the time). The card reader at the store refused to take my debit card. I wasn’t broke – I had money in my account – it was just that IBC debit cards are a hassle, especially if they’re the cheap in-store ones banks provide. This lady who’d been in line with us stepped forward and paid for my purchase. It was just the bag, nothing more. We’re talking $3 at most.

At that point in my life, I hadn’t thought about giving strangers money anymore because I didn’t have a lot to give. But this lady, who I’ve never seen again, stepped up and helped me as Shaun wailed in my arms. And I still think about her sometimes, when I see someone asking strangers for money, an offering, some help. I think about her when a content creator is trying to make their mark on the world.

Someone once did something nice for me. Something she wasn’t obligated to do, but wanted to do. I’m under no obligation to help people (unless I’m at work), but I do it anyway. That’s the mindset this country should have, but doesn’t. And it hasn’t for some time now. And this toxic mentality of individualism, this every-man-for-himself train of though, is what led to a president like Donald Trump, a man who does not have this country’s or the world’s best interest in heart or mind. This is why I support and donated to the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign.

It’s not about making America great again; it’s about making ourselves better people. Where we can still stand for individualism while helping others out on the way.

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