Thursday, 18 July 2013

Every Good Deed...?

When I was 13, I was on my way to the corner shop when I found a white envelope. It was lying in the gutter at the end of our Avenue and inside it was a wad of notes.

For a second, my heart leapt and I thought about keeping it but my inner self, the one already battered by a strict Catholic upbringing, said: "No" and I continued on my way to the corner shop but part of me thinking about how many Milky Way bars I could buy if I wanted to.

Once at the corner shop I asked: "Do you know if anyone has lost anything today?" I was then told how old Mrs Oxenfree (the name has been changed to protect the guilty!) had lost the money she had withdrawn from the shop's post office counter and she had been distraught when backtracking her steps. She had been saving to visit her grandchild.

I didn't think twice and went directly to Mrs Oxenfree's house. She lived 5 doors down from me and she answered the door in her fluffy slippers and a wrap-around apron. She was half my size, shrunken but with eyes like grey steel and she was surprised but overjoyed when I handed her the envelope. Mrs Oxenfree reached up, grabbed my face in her hands and said: "Bless you."  Then: "Wait right there and I'll give you a reward."

I waited for a minute, excited, pleased as Punch and basking in how good I felt to have "done the right thing." Mrs Oxenfree shuffled back to the front door, said: "Now hold out your hand," which I did expectantly, still thinking "I'll be able to afford those Milky Ways now." She then reached into her apron pocket and with her hand still closed, dropped something into my open palm; it was an egg. "There you go, you can have something nice for your breakfast." Then, she closed the front door in my face while saying: "Cheerio!"

Surprise doesn't quite cover what I felt and I learnt some kind of lesson that day although what it was I still can't say for sure. My cynical self, the one recovered nicely thank you from Catholic angst, grumbles: "I should have kept the money." However, the angel on my shoulder, the one with a bent halo, says: "An egg might have been a big deal to an old lady."

Do people get stuck in time after a certain age? I didn't eat the egg, it would have stuck in my throat so I gave it to my mum who laughed when I told her what happened.

Note to self: "Sweet little old ladies should be avoided like the plague!"