Some say birthdays are overrated, others start planning their birthdays six months in advance, and then there’s me. I feel everyone should do something special for themselves on their day. Normally, I go to the spa for a massage and anti-aging facial, but this year I was undecided on what it was I wanted to do for myself. Fortunately, someone who was walking the streets of Chicago one day gave me a nudge in a direction that would make my thirty-second birthday the best birthday I have ever had.
On Friday, December 13th, the day before my thirty-second birthday, I was walking down a snowy sidewalk when I spotted a fifty dollar bill sitting in the snow. I looked around to see if there was someone that could have possibly dropped it, but there wasn’t a person in sight. I decided to pick the fifty dollar bill up (after taking a photo for Instagram of course) and put it in my purse. After placing the bill in my purse, I posted the photo of the bill on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook asking my followers to advise me what I should do with the money. Could the bill be finders keepers? Should the money go to charity? Should I give myself a little birthday gift with the money? Should I put the bill back where I found it?
I took each of the suggestions given to me into consideration; from buying fifty lotto tickets to buying fifty dollar menu items from McDonalds to buying myself something nice. All great suggestions, but as I took the bill out of my purse to look at it, I couldn’t help but think about the person who lost it. What if it was someone who really needed that money? So even though visions of new shoes from Akira flashed in my head, I knew that the fifty dollar bill could do so much more than making my feet look fantastic.
I took the dozens of suggestions and decided that the fifty dollars (plus a little more) would take me to Potbelly, a sandwich shop that makes uber incredible meatball sandwiches. I walked into Potbelly and ordered a dozen meatball sandwiches. As the sandwich artists were toasting up the balls I had ordered, I decided to tell the sandwich artists what I was doing, which is a trait I get from my mother. Anywhere my mother goes, she tells complete strangers why she is there and where she plans on going. The sandwich artists of Potbelly were intrigued and inspired by my fifty dollar story and hooked me up before sending me out the door with smiles on their faces.
I had a bag full of meatball sandwiches and I walked out the door into the snowy and cold Chicago streets. As I walked I knew I had an extra bounce in my step, but I also carried some nervousness too. I spotted a man standing on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Chicago Avenue with a cardboard sign asking for money and food. I walked up to the man, handed him a meatball sandwich and said “Happy Holidays” with a smile. The man lit up and said, “Thank you.” His smile was very encouraging to me so I headed south down Michigan Avenue where just across the street there was a woman in a wheelchair. I handed her a sandwich and said, “Happy Holidays” with a smile and she responded with gratitude.
I got the same reaction all the way down Michigan Avenue and literally when I ran out of sandwiches I felt sad inside. The little sandwiches I had given these people meant so much to them. A warm sandwich is something that I can enjoy any day of the week if I am so inclined, but for these people it was a blessing.
I walked down Michigan Avenue a little bit longer thinking about what had just happened and smiling inside because something as simple as giving sandwiches away had made me feel more happy than I had felt on any other birthday past. My thirty-second birthday had trumped all the massages I had experienced, it trumped the donut cake my mom gave me in eighth grade, and it even trumped the vacation to Cabo I received.
Finding that fifty dollar bill does still worry me because the person that lost it might be someone that desperately needs it, but that fifty dollar bill made the day of over a dozen homeless people. So if the person who dropped a fifty dollar bill near the Lincoln Park Conservatory reads this, just know that your money was well spent and thank you for giving me the best birthday I have ever had.