It is hard for some people to believe that this is the same person! Not two months ago she was the most self-centered and selfish person I knew. I would know! I was her maid. Now she is a kind and selfless young lady. Who am I referring to? Delaney Austin. Delaney was an up and coming animator living in the heart of Hollywood. She wasn’t a bad person, but she wasn’t the best at sharing. But all of this changed one “fateful” Friday afternoon.
Upon arriving home from work she tossed the keys to her car to her butler for him to park, then turned to go to her office to begin sorting through the large stack of mail on her desk. She sorted the mail putting bills in one stack, magazines in another, and dumped the large stack of ads from charity organizations, asking for donations, into the trash. She was just throwing another charity ad away when her butler walked in to return the keys.
“You know that someone as fortunate as you could really help some of these groups,” her butler said gesturing to the trashcan now full of the ads.
Delaney responded without looking up from sorting the mail, “I worked hard to earn the money I have, and deserve to do as I wish with it! And,” She added strictly, looking up at him, “It is not your place, Mr. Chalis, to correct your boss!”
Mr. Chalis simply nodded and turned to leave holding the door as I walked in with another stack of mail.
“Does it ever end!?” Delaney sighed irritably flipping through the new stack of mail. “Always people trying to get my money!” She added throwing the new stack of ads into the trash.
“Mrs. Austin has been waiting for you to come up to read with her. I wouldn’t make her wait much longer.” I suggested.
Rolling her eyes Delaney headed over to her bookshelf and selected a book she knew to be her mother’s favorite; hoping to avoid a lecture about being on time. Mrs. Austin was a wonderful woman when she was young, but as she grew older became more touchy and particular about having everything as she believed to be perfect.
As I walked in with Delaney, caring her afternoon tea, she began to look at her watch to see if we were on time. Before Mrs. Austin could say anything Delaney said, “Yes, Mother, we’re a bit late, and we apologize. But I have brought your favorite book for this afternoon.”
Mrs. Austin studied her for a moment, then raising one eyebrow she said, “Very well, apology accepted. And it is no longer afternoon!” She added sharply, “its evening!”
“Yes, Mother,” Delaney sighed as she settled into a chair and began to read.
The following morning as Delaney was finishing up her breakfast there was a knock on the door. And a second.
“Where is Mr. Chalis? He should have gotten it by now” Delaney said looking around.
“He has the day off, if you’ll recall,” I responded as I took her dishes.
Delaney sighed and rolled her eyes as she stood to answer the door herself. She paused to respond to her mother as to why she and not Mr. Chalis was answering the door. By this time the knock resounded a third time.
Upon answering the door she found a small church youth group standing on her doorstep. The teacher gently pushed a small redhead up to talk to her. Knowing what was going to be said, she crossed her arms and waited for the little girl to say something.
“Hi miss, my name is Samantha. We are looking to raise funds to give to the local orphanage. We are selling homemade cookies-”
“No! Thank you, I am not interested.” Delaney interrupted, promptly shutting the door.
But through the door she heard the girl turn sadly to her teacher, “I didn’t even get to finish,” she said with a sniff, “and I was doing good! Why did she do that?”
Delaney paused for a moment wondering how the teacher would respond. She put her ear to the door hoping to hear the response, as they walked away.
“Maybe she’s having a bad day. But, on the other hand, some people are just like that…”
Delaney turned around and leaned against the door, thinking about what had just happened. But only for a moment. She quickly straightened herself and headed back to her breakfast.
As she walked past the door to the sitting room, her mother called her, “Delaney did you just turn those lovely kids away?!”
Delaney rolled her eyes and continued to walk away, but stopped when her mother continued in a tone of voice she hadn’t heard for years.
“Delaney, please! Come sit down.” This was the most clear and thoughtful she had seen her mother since she had moved in with Delaney.
She obediently sat down in the chair opposite her mother.
“Delaney what happened to you? When you were those sweet little girls’ age, you were in that same youth group, probably selling those same cookies, for the same fund raiser! And that lovely teacher was your best friend! Now you’ve turned them away! What happened to that gracious little girl I raised?”
“She grew up!” Delaney responded stiffly, “I work hard for the money I’m earning! Why should I give it away?!”
“Because there are others who need it, and appreciate it. It is our job to help those less fortunate. Besides! If for nothing else, it feels good to help others!” Delaney saw her mother grow stiff once more, “Now chew on that for a while! Where is my tea?”
Delaney slowly walked out of the sitting room, nearly running into me as I carried the tea in to Mrs. Austin.
She went upstairs to her room, and sat down on her bed, and thought about what had just happened. This time she didn’t stop herself. Had she really become so selfish? She recalled when she was in youth group, she had loved spending hours making cookies, then walking door to door seeing people’s faces light up as they bought half a dozen.
Slowly she began to cry. What had happened? What had changed? When did she turn into this uncaring monster?! After sitting for a few moments, she sat up straight, wiped her face, and rushed over to her dresser for her wallet.
Going as fast as safe, she drove over to the church where the youth group had already returned. Most of the children had left, but the little redhead girl was still waiting with the teacher. She hurried up to them, and apologized for her response earlier, asking if there were any cookies left. The girl replied sadly that there were still a couple dozen that they had been unable to sell.
With a kind smile on her face Delaney pulled out a couple large bills, “Will this cover it? I have some coworkers who would die for these cookies!” She said handing her the money.
The little girl’s face lit up and gave Delaney a quick hug before running into the building to grab the cookies.
Once the girl was out of earshot Delaney apologized again to the teacher. “I am terribly sorry for shutting the door on you! I realize how rude that was, and how selfish I was being,” she admitted. She quickly added, “Is there any way I could help with the youth group? I remember now how much fun I had as a little girl, and would very much enjoy being a part of that for these kids.”
By this time the little girl had returned with the box of cookies. “These were on the bottom… so they’re a little smooshed,” she said with a little giggle.
“All the better!” Delaney responded, taking the box, “Pour a little milk over them and voila! Yummy cookie cereal!”
The little girl burst into a fit of giggles as the teacher responded to Delaney’s question, “I would love the help! Honestly this bunch is getting too big for me to handle by myself,” She added tousling the girl’s red hair. “Is next Sunday too soon?”
“Not at all! I’ll see you then.”