Helping someone is reward unto itself

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

Question: What is the value of helping someone who cannot do anything for you in return?

Answer: Sometimes, when you least expect it, that person is able to return your kindness in an immeasurable way.

Recently, my 14-year-old son, Andy, and I sat among the 100,000-plus Buckeye faithful in Ohio Stadium as OSU put the beat-down on Colorado.

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This was Andy’s maiden voyage to an Ohio State game and I was blessed with the opportunity to explain to him some of the tradition of the football team.

Watching the expression on his face as he witnessed The Best Damn Band In The Land perform Script Ohio was a memory I’ll always keep.

Answering his questions and observing his curiosity made for a special day for dad.

But the greatest part of our trip happened long before we reached Columbus.

Once we entered New Boston that morning, we decided to duck into Golden Corral for a quick meal.

Later, as we exited with full bellies, I noticed a middle-aged acquaintance from years past sitting on the bench in front of the restaurant.

I became friends with Linda during the 11 years that I ran deliveries in Portsmouth for my former employer.

She used to leave her shopping cart, which she pushed around the city gathering empty aluminum cans, parked outside of the local Speedway on days I delivered and join into some entertaining conversations with the store manager and me.

As I got to know Linda, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her circumstances in life. She had nothing, save for the shopping cart, and little chance of ever living a comfortable existence.

To me, Linda was yet another answer to a prayer I’ve prayed for nearly a decade: “Lord, give me the opportunity today to do something for somebody else that most people wouldn’t consider doing.”

That single prayer has literally changed my life.

Linda, I decided, was put in my path for a reason and, because I was firmly convicted with this belief, I helped her as much as I could.

As Andy and I stood looking at her while she rested on the Golden Corral bench, the memories zipped by for me. I took a different career path in 2006 and hadn’t seen her since.

“Linda,” I said, garnering her attention. “Do you remember me?”


“Where do you remember me from?”

Her eyes parted from mine and I knew she was having trouble placing me.

“I’m not sure, but I know I know you from somewhere.”

During this part of the conversation, a young mother with three children walked up to Linda, placed some money in her dirty hands, and said, “You didn’t ask for this, but I just want to help you out.”

Linda hugged the mother, thanking her repeatedly for her assistance.

Once the young lady walked away, I barely had the words, “I want to help you, too, Linda” out of my mouth when her eyes lit up and she sprang to her feet.

“Billy! Oh my God!”

Her tears began falling as she bear-hugged me in front of my son for what seemed like an hour.

We talked for a while and I introduced her to Andy, to whom she said, “You have a wonderful father.”

Those words, coming from this poor woman, swung through my heart with the force of a sledge hammer.

Then we said what might have been our final goodbyes.

As Andy and I continued our journey to the game, I thought about the odds of my meeting Linda again in that moment with my son in tow.

And I decided it must have happened for a reason, just like when we met.

Hopefully, that reason is to show my son that taking care of people who cannot help themselves is what this life is all about.

Hopefully, for the benefit of others as well as your own, you’ll begin praying that prayer.

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer from Pedro. He can be reached via email at or by visiting his Website at