Updated: Apr 30, 2020
After a little over two years in my safekeeping, the $5 bill I found randomly tucked into the rim of a baseball cap in the Life is good store in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport has finally found its rightful, deserving home.
About 4:15pm on an overcast and not particularly nice Monday afternoon I headed out for a walk to clear my mind. I passed a gangly teenage boy with his bike, struggling to make the tape on a cardboard sign stick to a streetlight post. It read, “On Sidonia Street—LEMONADE.” Red felt pen on a piece of cardboard, hard to read for sure, never mind at 50mph. But at my pedestrian scale and pace, the message was clear.
The tradition of the summertime lemonade stand lives on. But it took on an even deeper meaning. Here was this kid on a Monday, 4:15pm, overcast, with his lemonade stand fully 500 feet back, and even up the crest of a hill further away from his sign, with zero sight lines from the road, putting in his time and ideas in the hopes of making money of his own. #entrepreneur
I altered my planned walking route, turned around and picked up the pace home, hopefully before the last glass of the day was poured, to retrieve my $5 bill. I’ve carried that bill on probably 50 trips since finding it. All over the country, to Canada, to Mexico and to Japan last month, looking for the right reason to pass it on. Today I found it.
I told this kid and his friend the story of the $5 bill, where and how I found it, and what it meant to me. I told them the responsibility I felt to give it away to just the right person. They told me today was their first day in business, and it was a dry run for a busy sunny Saturday or Sunday when they’ll serve more people. They had to work the kinks out. And they described their market area a.k.a. community. “It’s a great street,” said Noah. “Lots of people walk here and everyone is really nice”.I asked how sales were. “We’ve been open about 30 minutes before you got here and we have $3 so far. Now $8,” said Noah. Then he volunteered, “I know, our sign is in the wrong direction and it’s hard to read.” I handed him the thick black Sharpie pen I had brought as well, so they could make their message more readable. And for $5 I had the best glass of lemonade ever. They were serving 2 choices, a small white cup, or a larger red cup, and the choice of regular or pink lemonade. Noah poured me a big red cup of pink lemonade, complete with ice. Best pink lemonade, ever. As he slipped the well-travelled $5 into the plastic money box on top of his lemonade stand his shy smile said it all. He was proud of being in business and doing something on his own. And to me, Noah was not just an excited new entrepreneur, but a metaphor of a positive future. One Noah at a time, doing what he does, with pride and commitment builds community. I left knowing the $5 I found two years ago was finally where it was meant to be. And it truly made my day. Maybe my week.
Meet Noah, on the right, holding his $5 bill. He’s 15. And that’s his buddy Charlie on the left. He’s 13.