Life is busy. Very busy. It’s for this reason that I find myself multitasking on a constant basis. When I do housework, I often wear a knapsack on my back, so that while I am cooking and cleaning, I’m also carrying weights and strengthening my bones. My family used to give me the, “How did you get like that” look, but I never cared. When I do my daily power walk, I can never just walk; I also have to dispose of my recyclables and run into the makolet for that one little thing. Of course, I walk out with bags of groceries, but that’s okay. I just put them on my back and hope for even stronger bones. I do all this while coordinating my schedule, planning my articles and menus, and catching up with my friends on the phone. By now, my friends would probably find it strange to have a conversation with me without the noise of buses thundering in the background. Most of the time, things work out and I accomplish at least most of what I set out to do on my walks. But sometimes I bite off more than I can chew and end up messing myself up.
I recently did my walk on a cool, rainy night. I slipped my credit card into my pocket in preparation for a quick stop at the pharmacy. When it was time to pay, I stuck my hand in my pocket to retrieve the card, but, much to my chagrin, my pocket was empty. I checked all over but it was nowhere to be found. It apparently had fallen out of my pocket without my noticing. I paid with the bit of cash I had on hand and then continued my walk while searching for my card on the ground. This is easier said than done in the dark, in the rain. The flashlight on my phone did little to help, as the color of my card would have easily blended in with the color of the wet leaves on the pavement.
I came home wet, but not worried. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I figured that, similar to last time, I would get a phone call later that night or the next morning from a kind resident of Ramat Bet Shemesh who had stumbled upon my card and was looking to return it to its rightful owner. Just to be on the safe side, I put a temporary block on my card so that nobody would be able to use it. As soon as I hung up the phone with the credit card company, I received a call from an Israeli woman (yes, we have a few of those in Ramat Bet Shemesh) who was wondering if I was the owner of the credit card she had found on the street. This woman, who could barely speak or read a word of English really extended herself in order to locate me. She first called the bank listed on the card to see if they could help, but as expected, there was no one to talk to at that hour. Then she somehow made out my name and searched for a potential match in the local telephone directory. She hesitatingly called me and was thrilled that she had succeeded on her first try. I told her I would come by right away to pick up the card. She told me she would meet me outside at the bus stop right next to the parking lot of her apartment building. Now that was something I hadn’t expected. I’d like to think that I’m the kind of person who would try to find the owner if I found an abandoned credit card. But to leave my cozy home on a cold and rainy night to return it to a total stranger? I’m not so sure. But she inspired me. I think I would go that extra mile now. Why not go all the way when reaching out to another?
When we met at the bus stop, she handed me my card which I thanked her for but, of course, we continued talking. We immediately hit it off. We talked about the weather, the masks we were wearing, the politics in Israel, the politics in America, the vaccine, and the changes that will remain when corona becomes a thing of the past. I was sure she was a teacher because she just had that positive and encouraging way about her. She went on about how this virus is the necessary precursor of something positive that will enter the world. She quoted the pasuk, “B’damayich chayi.” Through blood, comes life. We don’t know what lays in store for us, but Hashem has a plan. The coronavirus is the blood, paving the way for a better world. I was truly inspired by my unforeseen meeting with this woman. It was almost worth dropping my credit card.
About a week or two later, I bumped into the same woman at the local supermarket. I recognized her immediately. She looked exactly the same. She exuded the same warmth, positivity, and friendliness. But she didn’t recognize me. When we first met, I was wearing my “power-walk-in-the-rain” attire. Now I was wearing a sheitel and more presentable clothing. Definitely a different look. But maybe there was another reason she didn’t recognize me. Something small had shifted in me due to my interaction with her. She raised the bar and inspired me to go all the way when doing a chesed. Perhaps she didn’t recognize me not only because I looked different on the outside, but because, in some small way, I looked different in the inside as well.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.