The father and son were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one family between them and the ticket counter. This family had eight children, all probably under the age of 12. You could tell they didn’t have a lot of money. Their clothes were not expensive, but they were clean. The children were well-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, elephants and other acts they would see that night. One could sense they had never been to the circus before. It promised to be a highlight of their young lives.
Their parents were at the head of the pack. The wife was holding her husband’s hand. The ticket lady asked the husband how many tickets he wanted. He proudly responded, “Eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets please.”
The ticket lady quoted the price.
The wife let go of her husband’s hand, her head dropped, the husband’s lip began to quiver. The husband leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?”
The ticket lady quoted the price again.
The husband didn’t have enough money.
How was he supposed to turn and tell his eight kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?
The father and son behind the family saw what was happened. The father put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and dropped it on the ground. Then he reached down, picked up the bill, tapped the husband in front on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, sir, this fell out of your pocket.”
The husband knew what was going on. He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking, embarrassing situation. He looked straight into the father’s eyes, took the father’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear streaming down his cheek, he replied, “Thank you, thank you, sir. This really means a lot to me and my family.”
The father and son went back to their car and drove home. They didn’t go to the circus that night, but they didn’t go without.