From Employment to Unemployment to Meaning-Ch.17: The Care in a Coupon

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Some years ago, when I was beginning life anew, legally as a single mom (though already single for more than a decade), I had little. When I packed up my sons and myself, all we assembled was our clothing, books, photos, and my sons’ toys. Nothing else from our former home travelled with us to our empty two-bedroom apartment on that frigid December 28. Nothing was given and nothing was taken from the three adult family members who stood peering through parted curtains, as nine-year old, five-year old, and I, struggled down and up three flights of stairs, working alongside the movers I had hired to get us to our new start.

My sons and I slept on the floor. A few days later, a sales woman at Sears, helped me choose beds. In looking and testing — the boys leaping and bounding on mattress after mattress — the sales woman and I got to talking; she sharing segments of her story and I sharing tokens of mine. Moved to tears, in the receipt of a portion of our tale, she began rummaging through drawers in search of coupons she could apply to our purchase. She found one for each bed, rang them up separately, and arranged for free delivery. Grand total for three excellent new beds, delivered and installed? $1,100.00. She even offered us a free grand piano, if we could arrange for pick up from her house.

A week or so earlier, a co-worker, in inquiring about our move, and hearing my shock about how expensive mattresses were at Sleepy’s, gave me an envelope that I was sure was a family photo Christmas card. Opening it revealed a card and…

A coupon.

That coupon was a check for $2,000.00. She knew we had nothing. Having endured a number of personal tragedies herself, she knew the pain of loss and the pain of nothingness. Having a heart, she cared. Having a conscience, she was moved to action. In her own poverty, she recognized her riches and ability to give.

That $2,000.00 covered the cost of the beds and their necessary accoutrements, the movers, and more.

That $2,000 coupon gave us life.

We should be issuing coupons every day. We should be issuing coupons to everyone we meet. Coupons are tickets, passes, vouchers, and tokens that greatly discount life’s adversities.

Why don’t we issue coupons more readily?

Costs compound astronomically when we refuse to issue coupons.

And coupons, $2000 ones, $2 ones, and 20cent ones are really so small.

We issue coupons…
When we stop to talk to a stranger, a family member, a coworker, a subordinate, a boss
When we make up the difference for the groceries someone can’t pay for
When we give a bottle of water to a thirsty youngster
When we give up our seat on the bus or train
When we wash dishes for a parent or family member
When we shovel snow for a neighbor, despite our own need
When we pause and try to see something from someone else’s perspective, instead of jumping to conclusions
When we understand that someone is in a quiet place, and needs time to retreat
When we understand that someone just needs to talk, without being given advice
When we respect the wishes of others
When we do our best to support, lead and encourage others in their efforts to live better quality lives
When we ask for a server’s name, and personalize our interactions with them
When we choose to not exhibit road-rage towards the slow driver in front of us
When we choose to not be angry with the person who was speeding and who crashed into us
When we exercise patience and care
When we say good morning and pause to genuinely inquire about how someone is doing
When we write someone a needed note
When we recognize effort, dedication and more
When we build up, rather than tear down
When we (insert any coupon caring option here…)

In education, work, and in life, giving coupons is a must. Sometimes, we are all spent, all given-out, and need to receive. In giving a coupon, someone receives a coupon. In coupon transfer, someone receives a discount, a deduction, a concession that makes the unaffordable and unbearable affordable and bearable. In the transaction, the return is the joy of giving and the confirmation that other centeredness can lift us out of our own high-priced miseries (at home, at work, and in life). In the exchange, there is love and tangibility that no money can buy.

Everyone, at some time or another, needs a ticket, a pass, a voucher, a token, a coupon — for something given and received freely, without obligation for recompense.

Isn’t this the purpose in life? Isn’t this what humanity is all about? To continuously issue care in a coupon?