We drove past the marsh on the way home from church today. It was a wet, gray day with spitting rain. Beyond the marsh the street is lined with modest homes. Standing alone in the rain at the end of one driveway and facing the street, a young black boy in a hoodie was playing a junior sized guitar and singing his heart out. A few blocks later I asked my husband to turn the car around and go back. Something about that boy touched my heartstrings. When we reached the budding street musician we stopped and I rolled down my window.
“Why are you singing in the rain?” I asked.
“I got bored in the house,” the boy answered.
I smiled at him. I have grandchildren his age who get bored in the house too. “What are you singing?”
“Oh, just some random stuff.”
“Would it be alright if I gave you a dollar?” I asked, realizing belatedly that most kids would have turned around and run away as they are often taught to do in school. But I have white hair and a Mrs. Claus face. The boy smiled back at me and approached the car.
“Will it be okay with your parents if I give you this money?” I asked as I handed him the dollar.
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“You know, the people who play music on the streets in the City put out boxes or buckets for you to put money in.” His smile grew bigger and he nodded as though he had seen for himself what I was describing. “I was in the City yesterday, and I put money in the buckets of the musicians whose music I liked,” I explained. “You made me feel so happy as I drove by and saw you singing, that I wanted to give you something too.” He didn’t say thank-you, but he didn’t need to; his smile was speaking for him.
“Merry Christmas,” I said as I rolled up my window and waved. He waved back and began singing again.
I wish I had given him five dollars.