It's easy to find a good deed to do on the road. We left donations at temples, museums and other attractions. We didn't bargain too hard. We ate at a restaurant which serves as a hospitality training centre for disadvantaged youth. All this was well and good. And then. Then came the night of the lottery tickets.

We were sitting in a coffee shop in Da Lat, drinking what is arguably the best coffee in the entire world, when an old woman came in - not begging, exactly, but selling lottery tickets for a small commission, which is a pretty close thing. As one of our guides explained, Vietnam has a daily lottery draw, which happens somewhere at 5pm. Tickets are about 35 US cents each, results are published in the national paper, and there's a cash prize. On a whim, I bought a couple of tickets. It took me a few moments to dig for the cash, and I chose my tickets from the bunch offered me, with a quick thanks. And then.

Then I happened to glance up into the woman's face. She was grinning with excitement. She said something in Vietnamese, and grinned some more. Her eyes were shining.

Later on, they started to close up shop, so we asked for the bill and made to leave. "What are you going to do with the tickets?" Mr Bea asked. Tracking down the winning numbers seemed an impossibly large effort for a fairly small and unlikely payoff. So when the waitress came back I gave them to her. She looked at them, and got that same grin and that same shine in her eyes. She asked whether they were really for her, and I said sure, why not, so she went off to show them to another waitress and we watched them talk excitedly.

It was strange. The reactions seemed all out of proportion to what we'd given. There was something about those little bits of paper - the potential, I suppose, the anticipation. There was some sort of magic in them.

And then.

Then I got that feeling again. The one where it's ok if we don't have any kids, because I can still experience that look on someone's face - the bright, shining eyes, the excitement, the magic. And I thought, pish tosh to all those who say there's nothing like the wonder of watching your child grow. Perhaps they've never bought lottery tickets from an old woman in a coffee shop in Da Lat.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to buy a return airfare's worth of carbon credits for deed number twenty-eight.


20 Comments

Reproductive Jeans said...

Wow...what an expierence that must have been. Great report card! I bet you will look back on that memory with great fondness...

Nica said...

Making me cry while I'm here at work...

Loved your post, as always..

Matthew M. F. Miller said...

What a beautiful gesture - I'm so glad you're having a great time on the road, and spreading joy to those in need.

Vee said...

That's a gorgeous report card.

I am sure you will be remembered forever.

Patience said...

It's all about perspective, isn't it?

Jackie said...

Bea, what a lovely deed. And a deed that surprisingly turned itself over into another deed. To witness such unexpected joy must be such a wonderful reward...

Mel said...

You have such a big heart Bea.
I am always inspired by you

Baby Blues said...

I also get those moments when I actually feel good about not having a baby and I realize that I already have all I need.

You have a selflessly big heart Bea.

God has a purpose.

My Reality said...

I wonder if the hope of what those tickets could be are what made the waitress so excited.

Adrienne said...

What a gift - to be able to pass on magic.

millie said...

What a beautiful thing to share with all of us. How amazing that hope can be bought at such a small price and do so much good.

Rachel Inbar said...

I think it's just you, Bea... you've got magic :-)

Laura, the (reluctant) baroness said...

Lovely post! Thank you for helping your readers look at things with a different perspective.

The Momcaster said...

it's amazing how easy it can be to bring joy to others. good on ya!

Lut C. said...

It's grand that you're open to the magice in life, in all the places where it can be found.

ak1908 said...

What an enlightening experience. I think life offers many forms of joy that are paralleled in their own way. ((((HUGS)))))

Pamela Jeanne said...

Thanks for sharing that story. It has all the right lessons for me. I think that's what I love most about this wonderful community. Someone always seems to know the right thing to say, or relate a story that will move us in the right direction. So glad you're one of them.

ms. c said...

An amazing story.

Ellen K. said...

"I can still experience that look on someone's face - the bright, shining eyes, the excitement, the magic."

That is lovely, Bea.

GLouise said...

What a wonderful story.

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