The benefit of the doubt

When we featured Sammy Kanja’s story in this month’s newsletter, Zidisha lender Malcolm D wrote to me with an inspiring story of his own.  I am sharing it in here with his permission:

Hi, Julia,

Thanks for sharing that heart warming story. I’m simply blown away by this man’s selflessness.

I’ve always prided myself about being willing to help people, too, although it’s obviously easier to help when one is somewhat financially secure.

On that note, I’d like to share another uplifting story with you. Many years ago while bicycling a few miles from home, I came across a car with its hood up. Didn’t think much about it. But on my return leg, I noticed a mechanic’s truck there, and also noticed a young Latino couple with a tiny baby. Being a helpful sort, being fairly fluent in el español, and especially being aware of how much bigotry there is in my area, I stopped to see if I could be of help-at least be translator.

This poor couple had bought their car in California the previous day, and were trying to reach apple picking jobs in Washington.

Turns out they were about $100 short of being able to pay the mechanic. Big problem!  I could see but one good solution, so I rode home and got some cash. I loaned them $150, so they’d at least be able to buy gas, etc on their way north.

I was struggling to get by, myself , way back then, but was frugal enough to always have a little cash set aside for emergencies.

The hombre offered to give me his drivers license “for security” . I told him I trusted him, not to bother. He did write down my address.

I’d loaned people money with no security s few times in the past, but never before to a complete stranger. I’d never been stiffed. This time, however, I thought I had been. I consoled myself by focusing on their obviously greater need.

One day, there was a knock at my door. A man asked, “remember me?”  I said, ” No. Don’t have a clue”.  “I’m the guy you loaned that money to”,he says. I about fainted! He went out to his new looking van, and brought his wife and EIGHT YEAR OLD SON into my home, and introduced them IN ENGLISH 🙂

He gave me $200 “including interest”  I told him that, being’s I was not a bank, I would not accept any interest, and I was just thrilled that he and his family were ok, and able to repay the loan.

Turns out that he’d lost the scrap of paper with my address on it, or he’d have repaid me long before he did. It was only when he cleaned out that car which had broken down near here, in order to sell it,  that he found the scrap of paper, under the seat. Since he was going beck to California anyway,  he decided to bring me the money in person.

My only regret is that I managed to lose his name and address, as I’d love to keep in touch. I DID send a very complimentary letter to a trucking company in Portland, OR, where he was employed.

I hope you, being in your line of work, find my story at least almost as uplifting as I found your story of Mr. Kanja.

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