Scott Hodge


The Power Of A Buck

Nov 29, 2005


Tonight I had to run a quick errand to make a payment at a local store.  When it was my turn to pay, the lady behind the counter indicated to me that there was going to be a $1.00 service fee.  And of course, I had no cash on me whatsoever.  My only option was to go across the street to an ATM machine. 

All of the sudden, a woman walking by (not even in the line) pulled out a $5 dollar bill and handed it to the woman behind the counter and said, "I can take care of that." 


Feelings of embarrassment, elation and relief – all at the same time filled my brain in just a matter of seconds.  I hesitantly accepted her offer to help me out and was just blown away by this woman’s kindness.

It was weird too, because suddenly the worth of that one dollar bill felt more like a hundred dollar bills – all because this woman did something that she was under absolutely no obligation to do.

Driving away from the store, I found myself asking how it’s possible to make one dollar feel like a hundred.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Be Aware

    If I’m going to be in the position to help someone out, I need to be
    aware of their needs.  (Paying attention in generally a good way to be
    aware – although that isn’t always easy for an A.D.D. guy like me.)
    Obviously, this woman was paying attention to my situation and decided
    to be solution minded – even though it cost her a buck.

    I realized today how often I walk into a store or situation so focused on what I need to take care of that I can’t even imagine how many opportunities I’ve missed out on to jump in and help someone out.

  2. Just do it.

    If I’m in the position to help someone out who is in a bind, why not just do it?!  Why do we spend so much time over analyzing?  If you are a solution to someone’s problem, why not help fix it?

  3. Teach it.

    This is going to be Elise’s bedtime story tonight.  Why?  Because I want her to be this kind of person.  I want her to understand the value in helping people – even at her own expense.  It’s easy to open a door for someone.  It’s easy to help someone carry something heavy.  But it’s not always easy pulling out the $5 dollar bill. 

8 Responses to “The Power Of A Buck”

  1. Kerry says:

    Nice. One of the things I like to do is to buy the lunch of the person behind me at the drive-thru. I actually had someone drive me down, and pull me over, asking me why I did that. After that, I got to share a little bit of God’s love for her. Turns out she had a story to share, and that little not having to pay for lunch, just really helped her out and touched her. I LOVE STUFF LIKE THIS!

  2. Luke Dusek says:

    Obeying the inner voice telling me to pay for someones coffee or lunch is great. It is the times that I think too long and miss the opportunity that I really understand the importance of it. I can still think back to moments, even months ago, where I knew I should have payed for something and I didn’t. I am still regretting these missed opportunities.

  3. Great Lesson Scott. This is the true meaning of being Christ like. There is a church in Keller, TX led by Brandon Thomas that goes the extra step and creates cards for their church members to use for just this type of thing. It’s a nice card that you can hand the person at the window of a drive thru after you pay for the car behind you. It is impressive. (no I don’t work or attend) I did visit and for a church less than a year old, they have a spirit of excellence. you can see some of this at
    Keep up the great post Scott!

  4. Ken Partain says:

    I have heard of people paying the toll for the car behind them, but I have not ever heard of paying for their meal in a drive through. It sounds like a great idea and as Kerry mentioned, you never know when your small gift will make a huge difference in someones life. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  5. Stacy Brice says:

    I love all three points, Scott. Bravo! Most of all, I love that you taught this to Elise. *That’s* a great way to repay the kindness of the lady with the $5.
    I do the toll-booth thing all the time, and I’m always looking for ways to be of service–on the spot–to others who clearly have unexpected needs, OR where I can see that doing something nice for another is simply the right thing to do.
    Some things I do often:
    *Holding doors for people coming behind me (but not close enough to make it a natural thing to do)
    *Helping someone (even clearly able-bodied folks) carry things when she has far too much in her arms
    *Helping shorter folks (I’m nearly 6′tall!) reach things on higher shelves or fixtures in stores
    *Letting someone with only a few things go ahead of me in line
    … I even once gave up a cab to another person in NYC in the rain because I had an umbrella, and he didn’t. Now THAT’S being nice ;>
    I realize that these are all things that people in polite society would do IF they thought about them. I just think too few people do, anymore.
    There are so many ways and opportunities to be of service to others..and doing that is an act of grace; it’s gratitude (in action, not just in thought) for all we have been given.
    I hope your experience, and your post help people be more mindful,and as an extension, more helpful to those around them. :)

  6. kate says:

    Your story made me immediately think of how we take a dollar for granted, when our neighbors may be so strapped to a budget that they couldn’t afford minor inconveniences like that. Seems hard to imagine that a dollar would be too much for someone to absorb. It’s always hard for me to remember that I pass people every day who don’t have the same opportunities I have. All of these commentors have great ideas, and everyone needs to be reached out to – including the rich – but remember that there are people who wouldn’t have the money to get into the drive-thru line in the first place. Maybe buy an extra meal and find someone to give it to on your way home…or ask a lone elderly person in a diner if you could sit with them. No, I haven’t done that – but I should. And I hope I will take your advice to stop hesitating and act now.

  7. Practicing Small Kindnesses

    Think making a huge difference in someone’s life takes a herculean effort or a lot of time? Just ask Scott Hodge who not only rediscovered the power of a buck, but the power of simple generosity. What I love about his later reflection is how this isn’t…

  8. Juno888 says:

    There are so many ways and opportunities to be of service to others..and doing that is an act of grace; it’s gratitude (in action, not just in thought) for all we have been given.

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