I remember getting a free ride...
I was probably 11 or 12, and our family was visiting the Red Deer Exhibition. There were fairway rides, carnival games, a little rodeo, and a show in the evening. It was quite an outing for us, and my little sister and I were very excited!
I remember sitting on the grass in the sunshine eating the lunch that Mom packed so we wouldn't have to buy food. I remember scouring the area with my sister to get pop cans and beer cans so we could get the money later. I remember running into Tommy Hunter on the midway and asking for his autograph, secretly shocked because he was drinking a beer! (Hadn't I seen him singing hymns on his TV show? How could he sing gospel and drink beer? I was confused.)
I also remember not having any money to go on the rides. Mom gave us permission to go look at the midway, but no money for ride tickets...our family just couldn't afford it. I don't think us kids felt too resentful, but we couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed. At least we were allowed to roam--we were thankful for that.
As we strolled along, a carnie called out to us. "Hey, girls, come ride the Tilt-a-Whirl!"
I felt like such a hick. "We don't have any money."
He paused a second, then hollered out to us, "Aw, come on, anyway...I can't run the ride unless I have two more people."
Sis and I looked at each other. Did he mean for free, or were we going to have to pay? I felt very uncertain. "Come ON!!" he hollered. So we jumped on the ride, hoping we wouldn't have to bring our parents over later to pay for our foolishness. The ride was exciting, we screamed our heads off, and then it was over. He waved to us as we left...and that was it! He hadn't asked for tickets! It really was free!
I still wondered about the incident, so when we went running back to Mom to tell her all about it, I asked her if it was right to take the free ride. I'll never forget her answer. "Honey, if someone gives you a gift, you don't make them feel bad for giving it. You smile and take it, and say thank you very much." Spoken like a true pastor's wife!
I would be reading a book, and some character in the book would say "We don't accept charity!" and I just wouldn't understand how they could be so cruel and proud and thoughtless. It never seemed like a positive quality to me after that lesson from Mom.