Monday, April 20, 2009

Two things


First and foremost, happy birthday to my wonderful mom! I honestly don't know anyone more generous, giving or good with people. I like to think of myself as being generous, giving and good with people, but I've got nothing on her. She schools me, bigtime.

Some of the unique things that make my mom my mom:

  • She loves my children absolutely, which is a joy and a comfort to me. When she is around, they prefer her to me. She would rather be with her grandchildren than out with the adults, but does not relax when they are around. It's constant counting heads, making snowcones, taking off too-warm clothing, changing diapers, getting drinks. It's exhausting, and she's good at it. And she loves it. (I'm pretty sure.)
  • She hates flying, but flies all over the place, because travel and culture and enriching experiences and seeing family trump her fears every time.
  • She also hates bridges. And swimming. And confrontation. And cooking. And bad grammar. And dopey people. And attention (this post will likely make her uncomfortable).
  • She is magic with teenagers and young adults. Growing up, all her children's friends would come over just to hang out with her.
  • She has always encouraged me in everything I do. (Unless that thing has any semblance whatsoever of being dangerous.) She has raised her children to be educated, openminded, and inquisitive.
  • I do believe that to know my mother is to love her. Happy birthday, mom! Isn't it great that your children finally appreciate you?
The second item of interest is quasi-related to my mother. In the sense that she is the most generous person I know, and it became clear to me yesterday that I have very stunted levels of generosity in my heart. Here's the story:

Driving home from Arizona yesterday, we were stopped at a gas station/Burger King in Fillmore, Utah. A man came in, kind of scruffy, and asked the gas station attendant if he could make a call. The phone call was long distance so he couldn't use the store phone. He asked if the attendant had a cell phone, and she said she didn't. Steve was standing right there and offered the man his phone, and we stood there as he (supposedly) called his dad. "Hi, dad. We're in Fillmore. We only need about 10 or 12 dollars in gas to get home. The lady says she can't take a credit card number over the phone. Can you go to Check City and wire me some money? Okay, here's my account number."

Steve whispered to me, "Should I just buy the man some gas?"
Me: "I think he's scamming us."

Ten minutes later, we're set to leave and the man is out by his car waiting for money to appear to buy gas to get back to SLC. I remember about how charity never faileth, and tell Steve to do whatever he thinks is best. Steve goes over and buys the dude $15 worth of gas. The guy seems grateful, and we all leave.

I still felt a little distrustful, which is weird, because I always give money to the beggars in parking lots and on street corners when I see them and when I have some, even when it's quite likely that I'm being scammed. It doesn't bother me then. Mosiah 4 gets me every time (read verses 16-20, and they'll get you, too). But if this guy at the gas station was scamming us last night, it was an elaborate and dang good scam, and I didn't want to be the major sucker who fell for it. I was even tempted to redial the number on the phone and talk to the guy on the other end to check out the story. You know, say something like: "Did your son just call you asking for gas money? Don't worry. We took care of him and he's well on his way." But Steve wouldn't let me.

Our last bishop was tremendously generous with a few people who may have been scamming him, and he knew this, but said, "I'd rather be scammed than be uncharitable." So that is the principle that Steve and I talked about after we gave this guy enough gas to get back to Salt Lake. And we talked about how though that might have been a kind thing to have done on our part, it wasn't overly generous in any sense of the word. There are some people in this world who would have filled the man's tank, bought him and his friend lunch, and sent them away with a wad of cash just in case they needed it.

We aren't generous like that. What do you think? What would you have done?

22 comments:

abby said...

i wondered what that was all about but forgot to ask. i think it was a generous gesture. and i don't think it would've been more generous to buy him dinner at burger king because that food was naaaaaasty.
question: would you rather eat candy for the rest of your life or burger king for the rest of your life? ask aaron and report back to me.

Sarah said...

Nice post on mom! I think you are very generous Emily. You did a nice thing.

Sarah said...

That is an intriguing post. I would totally have the same feeling of being scammed and wanting to call the number back. I wonder, IF HE WAS scamming, how could that coded message to his "dad" mean anything? I have a feeling I'm going to be contemplating this odd situation longer than I should...

And your mom sounds like an incredible lady! Happy birthday to her!

Rachel said...

The year we lived in Phoenix one of the 12 apostles spoke in the October Conference about the beggars. I thought I was nice most of the time and at times have felt like you where I knew they were scamming me but anyways the Elder spoke about always giving of what you to have to the beggars and if you don't have anything than to say in your heart if I had something I would give. I have been so much better since than and realize it is not my place to judge and I should always help when I can.

Steph said...

Your mom is a doll! She is gracious and genuine. I love her too.

As for the gas guy, it sounds like you did a kind thing. I have always thought of you as a generous person. I think the key is to listen to the Spirit and error on the generous side, rather than judging.

Emily said...

Stephanie, yes! Gracious and genuine are two very appropos words for her. They completely fit.

Eliza said...
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Eliza said...

i love your mom!!!

brandi said...

amen- i love your mom too. she did raise open-minded, intelligent, wonderful children. there is a genuine level of listening, she is curious and cares about what others think/feel, and i always sensed that around her:)-- on the other ? of giving, i personally go with an awareness of how i feel. if i feel compelled to give, then i give. this is hard sometimes, but the feeling of withholding, and regret at not accepting the opportunity to express love is worse, i guess i would rather be scammed too! it's great what your bishop said. didn't someone else say (something like) "if you bring forth what is within, it will save you. if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."-anyways just a thought or 2 on the matter:)

Nancy said...

It's true, to know your mom is to love her. I don't like flying or bridges either, they make me nervous, Travis drives over bridges extra slowly to make me mad, he's kind of like that. Anyway happy birthday to Amye! And I would probably have given the guy gas money too, I remember a story my Dad told like that once and I believe he regretted only giving gas money and not a little extra. You never know though.

{Erica} said...

this happened to us...almost exactly like it happened to you. We were driving home from utah back to Iowa and stopped somewhere in Green River WY I think. I just told my husband to just get him the gas and not even both letting him use the cell phone. I was sure he was scamming us but like your bishop my dad has the same motto and apparently it's stuck with me as well. I can not tell you how many times friends, boyfriends and a few times my husband just shake their heads at me and tell me how I was being taken advantage of. Who are we to judge though?

Not to say that I'm a saint because yes, I am hesitant sometimes and sometimes do it for the wrong reason (blessings for my mansion in heaven please :D), but I do have to say that I'd rather be the one to help a person than be the one person that could've and didn't.

p.s. sorry that I randomly comment on your blog every 6 months it seems :) I read it but feel weird commenting sometimes because you don't know me.

Oma (Robyn Stoneman) said...

Your mom is won of my mostest favoritest peoples. I no she luvs gud gramr, but she luvs me anyways in spite of all my falts. She even hlped me raz my kids to. As far as the gas man, I learned something from Steve Brady when Taylor died... when in doubt, you just go, you just do, you just give, and you'll never regret your goodness. You truly are good!

Natalie said...

I mentioned my adoration for your mom on Abby's blog. At the risk of sounding stalker-ish and obsessed with your mother I won't mention my adoration for her here as well. Or would it be better to pay her 2 compliments on different blogs? Now there is a moral dilemma for you...to compliment or not to compliment...

Seriously, I firmly believe that when your intentions are to be kind you can't go wrong. What you give comes back to you. One of our leaders recently said that we shouldn't give to the point we are comfortable, we should give to the point where we feel it and the giving stretches us.

Anonymous said...

Emily, I am humbled by your kind words. I treasure words of love and appreciation from my children. I am rich beyond measure because of you. Thank you for being my amazing, wonderful daughter, and for sharing those thoughts.
I am happy to read those comments from my cousin Robyn and her two charming daughters. No wonder I liked you from the get-go! We're family! Robyn, you funny girl. Thank you, kind people, all!
As for helping people in need, I'm not consistently generous. I hope to get better. Abby will remember this from a few years back. We were pumping gas on a Saturday afternoon at the Shell station on the corner of 51st and Olive, and we observed a young family-father, mother and infant, standing by their car in the summer heat. The father was tinkering with his engine, and as I walked by them, I said something to them about their troubles. The man said he just needed gas to get to Tucson and then they'd be OK. It's odd that I got caught up in this conversation, because I'm not talkative with down-and-outers. But I found myself telling them to pull up to the pump and I would fill their tank. Now, don't tell me how insane this is, because I already know. Somehow, we ended up driving him to the auto parts store to get a part he desperately needed, while his wife and baby waited at the station. An hour and $85 later, we left them to their car repairs. Call me a sucker, but it felt right at the time. Amye

Laura said...

Emily, this was something I have been thinking about too. As I was leaving a grocery store the other day a woman asked for money so she could buy some chips. I told her I didn't have any cash so I would buy her some. I went back in and bought the chips. I don't know if that is what she really wanted with the money but she took them. I only feel bad that I didn't ask if I could buy her a full lunch. She didn't have any teeth and could have used a meal. I still think about that woman. Your mom sounds like a great woman.

Liz said...

love amye! i will never forget the week that i flew with her on a few airplanes, paddled her out in the middle of a river, then paddled her under a dock. i don't think she'll ever forget either! :D

Steve said...

When I was a teenager, I'd go over to Emily's house. Amye would answer the door and say, "Steve, come on in!" And then she'd sit down and talk with me for half an hour. And eventually I'd say, "So, is Emily here?" Half the time, she wasn't. Social girl that Amye. We're very lucky to have her.

So the guy at the gas station. I really don't think he was scamming me. But if he was, it was a great scam, and he deserved to be rewarded. In any event, I had been feeling bad all day because in Page, Arizona a guy came up to the car, outside Subway, and asked for change, "cause I'm hungry, and all that." I didn't have any cash, but I offered him my vegetable chilps that I'd bought at Sprouts and that nobody in the car liked. He took them. The rest of the drive I was thinking, "Inasmuch as ye did give vegetable chips unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou didst give them unto me." And I figure at the the judgement, the Lord's going to say, "You were sitting outside subway, having just eaten your lunch, and you gave me vegetable chips?" Yeah, pretty measly offering. So how could I refuse when the guy later needed gas. I shouldhave filled the tank. I should have bought him dinner.

Bryn said...

It's always hard to imagine the Savior as the other guy but it always seems to make less regrets later on.

Didi said...

Great post Emily on both counts! Your Mom sounds amazing and you are a reflection of her.
As for the gas guy, I would have been just as suspicious about the intents as you were, but Doug would have been just like Steve and would have just gone and done it as well. It is hard to not make judgements and I still work on just simply giving without knowing. Doug has been my example in that area- he never thinks twice- if he has it, he gives. You just never know and it IS so much better to be charitable, even if it is a scam! I think you did right!

brandi said...

Emily--
i tried to message you on twitter... but, it turns out i am differently abled when it comes to twitter and sort of hate it (as well)-- so i am congratulating you on your pregnancy via your blog- hope you are feeling great-- soooo very happy for you!

Kijuana said...

Interesting post about the guy who just needed some gas. I'm a little bit inconsistent with my giving to random people. On one hand I feel annoyed when people have their hand out to beg b/c I work hard, long hours and sacrifice to take care of my kids and it truly is difficult sometimes on my own. On the other hand, I am blessed beyond measure and 'for whom much is given, much is required'. So, I sort of just decide on the spot if I am willing and able to help. I'm sure I have been scammed plenty, but in those instances where it 'feels right', I do and it uplifts me. Also, have you ever watched "The Secret" video? It discusses the flow of the universe and how holding too tightly to money can actually block the return of money to you. It's true, I think...when you give, you get.

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