I squinted at the parking meter machine in front of me. All I had to do was put money in, tell it how long I wanted on the meter, and it would spit out the proper receipt for me to place on my windshield. The October morning sun lay out over the car and glinted in the windows of the tall buildings in a way that told me the car would be in the shade shortly.
Just as I put the ticket under my windshield wiper, I looked back and saw a man walking toward me. This was a city – Baltimore; there were a lot of people walking toward and away from me, but this guy was headed on a beeline right for me. I wasn’t really worried. It was a crowded street in broad daylight. But I didn’t have any idea what he could want from me. He was a big guy, tall and broad, with a deep chocolate complexion and a wide mouth full of teeth – one of them large and gold. I only noticed his teeth because he was smiling.
He held out something in his palm. “Hey,” he said, “I just donated to cancer research over there.” He indicated down the street with his head. “I got this pink bracelet. You’re kinda cute. Do you want it?”
It took me a minute to catch my breath as I looked at the standard-issue pink, rubber bracelet in his hand. Who was this guy? “You know,” I said slowly, “I have cancer.”
“You’re kidding me!” he exclaimed, his palm still outstretched.
I shook my head. “It’s true. I just finished my last treatment and hopefully I’ll find out soon that I’m well again.”
“Then you have to take this bracelet,” he said, putting it into my hand, which I had put out.
“I will,” I said, nodding. “I’ll take all the good karma I can get.”
He shook his head a little. “This is so cool. Hey, you have a good day.”
“You just did your good deed of the day,” I told him, “I hope you have a great one too.”
“I will,” he assured me. The guy grinned even more broadly and continued on his way up the street.
I was headed in the opposite direction from him and grinning, too, as I clutched my pink bracelet tightly. I might have been skipping instead of walking as I thanked the universe for thinking of me.