To say that the neighborhood wasn’t ideal, especially at dusk, was an understatement.
We drove past a few check cashing places, privately owned convenience and liquor stores, all secured with bars on their windows.
I pulled into a parking place and shut the car off.
“We’re going to a pawn shop?” Marc asked.
“Do you want to get a laptop today, or not?” I retorted.
“Yes.” Marc said, as he let out a long sigh.
We got out of the car and shut the doors, as I hit the lock button on my key chain.
“Well, let’s go in.” I encouraged.
Reluctantly, Marc complied.
Once inside, I was surprised to see how packed the store was with both merchandise, and people.
We approached the electronics counter and were greeted by a man covered in tattoos.
“I’m looking for an affordable laptop.” I stated.
“Well, take a look at everything on this shelf and let me know if anything catches your eye.” He replied.
I immediately spotted a small laptop on the third shelf. It looked to be in good condition, maybe even fairly new.
“Let me see that one.” I said, pointing my finger.
The man placed the computer on the counter in front of me.
I asked, “How much is this?” As I opened the laptop and turned it on.
“Two hundred dollars,” He replied, “but it’s over three hundred brand new.”
“I actually need two laptops like this.” I said, “Both of my sons need one for school.”
“Mom, there’s another one just like that on the second shelf.” Marc yelled, sounding excited.
The man turned and grabbed the second, identical laptop and placed it in front of me.
“Do both of these work?” I asked.
“They work, you just need to reset the passwords and do a factory reset on both of the laptops,” he replied.
“I have no idea how to do that,” I confessed. “Plus, it’s more than I can afford to spend.”
“If you buy two laptops, I’ll give you both of them for two hundred dollars,” he offered.
The price had piqued my interest, but what was I going to do about the factory reset and the passwords, I thought, hesitant to make the purchase…
My deep thoughts were interrupted by a male voice.
“Hey, Marc! Good to see you!”
I turned to see a middle-aged, well dressed man with a big smile on his face.
Marc gave him a high-five, then turned to introduce me.
“Mom, this is my computer teacher at school, Mr. Bradley.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Bradley. I’m Erin.” I said, as I extended my hand.
“Nice to meet you, Erin,” Mr. Bradley replied. “So, what are you guys doing here?”
“Shopping for laptops.” I said, “I’d like to get these two, but I have no clue how to change passwords and perform a factory reset.”
“I’d be more than happy to do that for you,” Mr. Bradley said. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
The man behind the counter handed over power cords and quickly cleared a space where both laptops would be accessible.
Before I knew it, Mr. Bradley was hard at work resetting both computers.
What I didn’t realize was the entire process was going to take two hours. Mr. Bradley diligently performed his computer magic, as we watched and waited.
Just before closing time, both of the laptops were reset and as good as any brand new computer.
“Marc, your computers are just like you got them new out of the box. The first thing that you and your brother have to do is set up your passwords,” he said with a smile.
Marc was beaming as he thanked his school teacher and gave him a hug.
“Mr. Bradley, I can’t thank you enough!” I said with delight. “I feel like I should pay you for your time.”
“No worries, Erin.” Mr. Bradley replied, “It was my pleasure!”
“See you at school, Marc!” Mr. Bradley said, as he headed out of the store.
I turned back to the counter as the tattooed man said, “That will be two hundred dollars, plus tax.”
I took out the two hundred dollars that I had saved for an emergency. Then I counted out the tax from the remainder of the money I had left after our visit to Job Lot.
I paused for a moment as I watched Marc wind up the power cords and carefully gather both laptops.
We were both smiling, as Marc held his and his brother’s new laptops close to his chest.
My mind flashed back to the smile on the face of the woman with the EBT card, then to the tears, and the smile on the face of the once homeless woman, clutching her new tablet, as she waited for the bus.
It was dark as Marc and I hurried to get to the safety of our car.
On the way home, Marc was a flurry of joy and chatter…
“Mom, can you believe it? I can’t believe it! I can’t believe that Mr. Bradley was there… and we got these two identical laptops… and it was just what we had to spend! I can’t wait to use my new laptop and I can’t wait to give Rocky his! He’s never gonna believe this! Thank you mom!”
“You’re welcome, Marc.” I said, “Just know that when you give in life, you also receive in unexpected ways.”
“I know mom, I feel like that lady with the tablet did today, and it feels good!” He said.
“I’m glad, Marc.” I replied, “I hope that you always remember this day and all that you’ve learned.”
“I will, Mom. Can I be the one to give Rocky his laptop when we get inside?”
“Yes, Marc you can,” I said with a smile. “You definitely can.”
I can end this story here…
But sometimes stories don’t end, and certainly true giving never ends.
Get ready for the grand finale…
Could you imagine doing something generous, for an ordinary person, who actually turned out to be a Nun…
Sometimes, you’re called to help another human being…
Or, unbeknownst to you… you may be the answer to one of their prayers.
Stay tuned for part 4!
Erin Cooper Reed