I think God wants me to be rich. He keeps trying to give me money.
Late morning on Super Bowl Sunday, I had breakfast with my sister Diane and her son Dante at a local diner. The check came to $19.45. We left the tip on the table, handed Dante a twenty and asked him to pay the bill at the counter. A few minutes later he came back with a $10 bill in his hand. We assumed that he didn't know the total of the bill and hoped he didn't think $19.45 out of $20 leaves you $10. We told him to go back, return the money and explain to the cashier the mistake. When he came back to the table I told him you should always return the money if someone makes a mistake because at the end of the day that money will come out of their pocket. I followed that with a story (of course).
Years ago, I was in a bar down at the Jersey Shore with my friend Nick. I ordered scotch-on-the-rocks and, when the bartender returned with my drink, I handed him a ten. When he returned with my change I noticed he gave me change for a twenty. I called him back and told him he made a mistake. He was quick to deny it, but I assured him it was in his favor and returned the money. He thanked me and then thanked me again later in the evening with a few free drinks.
To my left were two older women who sat in silent judgment of my actions. After I returned the money to the bartender one of them said to me:
"We were wondering what you were going to do."
Apparently they approved of what I did. So either they were angels sent to test me, or two nosy old women who ran out of things to say to each other.
Back to Super Bowl Sunday.
Later that afternoon, I left my sister's house and headed home. Arlene (ex-wife) called and told me both Amanda (daughter) and Danny (son) where home and asked if I would pick up a pizza for lunch. "Of course", I told her, and she phoned in the order.
I walked into the restaurant she ordered from and noticed it was pretty empty. I stepped up to the cashier, who was on the phone, and waited. In front of her was a black Formica counter with a short wall that shielded the counter top from the cashier's eyes. When she put down the phone I gave her my name and she said it would be a few more minutes. While I waited I looked down and something strange caught my eye.
"Hey," I said, "is this money real?"
Without looking in my direction she sort of smirked and said, "No, of course not" like I was an idiot for asking.
What she was talking about were phony $20 bills with the restaurant's name and phone number printed on them. Of course no one would think they were real.
What I was talking about were the two stacks of disshelved bills next to the phony twenties. Each stack was a little less than an inch thick, and I could plainly see the bills denominations: hundreds, fifties, twenties. There was easily $1,000 in each stack and it was obvious she didn't know it was there.
I'm not perfect (shocking) and I have to admit there was that split-second I thought about sweeping the money off the counter and into my pocket -- there was no one there to stop me.
Instead, I picked a twenty off the first pile.
"It certainly looks real," I said as I held the money up for her inspection.
The look of surprise wiped the smirk from her face as she called the manager in from the kitchen. Apparently, he had left it there by mistake. He moved around the counter, picked up the cash, then disappeared into the kitchen just as my pizza appeared.
"That will be $10.25," she said. Not even a free pizza as thanks for not stealing their money.
I delivered the pizza to Arlene's house and talked with the kids while they ate. I told them about the two instances where free money was within my grasp.
"Dad," Amanda said, "did you ever think it was God's way of trying to give you money?"
I laughed, and didn't think about it again until what happened on my way home.
I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items -- at check-out the total came to $14.47. I handed the cashier a twenty and she returned to me $10.53. I stared at the money in disbelief -- maybe God was trying to give me money.
I tried to get the cashier's attention, and did, only to be told to please wait a minute until she finished checking out her next customer. Not only was God giving me money, he was giving me time to get away with it. Eventually I returned the money, she gave me the correct change and I was on my way.
I called Danny to tell him about this and he told me I should buy a lottery ticket, which I did.
I was in a football pool for the Super Bowl and there was a payout at the end of each quarter. Nearing the end of the first quarter I had the numbers to win -- seven and three. OK, back on track, God is going to give me money again, this time I was sure to take it. It wasn't until I checked the betting sheet again that I realized I had the right numbers, but for the wrong teams. God was just toying with me now.
I didn't win anything that night and the next day not one of my lottery numbers came in. I think God has given up trying to make me rich. Then again, maybe I'll give him one more chance -- I'm buying a lottery ticket on my way home tonight.
God knows I could win.