A memory by Richard Bleil
The reality is that I’m not always a saint. So, here’s a story of a past event where I was rather mean spirited and overly competitive.
A friend of mine invited me to an auction at her church. I am not a religious person, but I like supporting my friends and good causes, so I decided, against my nature, to go. I had decided that I would buy something, just, one thing to support the church.
I showed up early and walked through the tables of items up for auction. Mostly it was craft goods, and I’m not really into them. I’m estranged from my family and have nobody for whom to purchase gifts and being a single male, I don’t have crafts decorating my home. But there was one little television. It was very small making it about the right side for a kitchen or in my bedroom. I decided that would be what I bid on.
But, see, the goal was not to “win” the television. I wanted to donate to the church, and this was the one and only item I thought would at least be something I would want. So, the auction began on the far opposite end of the room. I listened politely as the auctioneer rand through item after item. There were a few heated auction moments, but for the most part, it was relatively uneventful.
Finally, they reached the television. It was towards the end of the auction, and most people had actually already left with their prizes. A few people remained, including one elderly woman and a man I assumed was her very tired looking elderly husband (although it could have been a brother, cousin, friend…who knows really). The bidding began, and I opened it up.
And she counter bid.
And I counter bid her counter bid. And she counter bid my counter bid counter bid.
She looked at me, and I at her. Our lips furled in defiance, sweat began to glisten on our foreheads as the competition rose. The bidding continued, but no matter how often I bid, she tried to outbid me.
As the auctioneer continued increasing the bids, we kept bidding against each other. At one point, even the auctioneer pointed out that we could probably just go buy a new television for what the price had reached, but by now, it wasn’t about the television. It was about winning.
I could tell she was beginning to weaken. She began clutching her purse tighter, and her bids were slowing down, but she wouldn’t give it up. I remained defiant, and the bids continued to fly.
Finally, she broke. The last bid was mine. I won. I looked at her and saw her look of disappointment. I made my way to the table and paid my bid. The television was mine. I had won. I defeated the elderly woman. That’ll show her who the boss is. I don’t know why she wanted it, but it was mine. I didn’t even need it, but I could do with it what I wanted.
The entire time I was paying for it, I kept an eye on her. I didn’t want her to leave just yet. After I finished paying, I walked back to her.
And I told her.
I told her that I had purchased the television for her. It was hers to take. Yes, I had paid entirely too much, and I could have let her win and just paid her bid for her, but I wasn’t really bidding to win the television.
When the woman had asked me why I would do that, I explained that I was bidding to help out my friend’s church. I wanted to give them my money. She is an amazing person, and I know she must belong to an equally amazing church. I didn’t want the television, but since it was mine, I could do with it what I want, and what I wanted was to give it to her.
As a smile crossed her face, she quickly opened her purse and began to open up her billfold. “How much do you want for it?” she asked. I let out a little chuckle, and said, I don’t want anything for it. She looked at me, surprised. “Nothing,” she asked? “I couldn’t do that.”
I smiled at her. “I’ll make her a deal. Whatever you want to pay for that television, go to that table, and give it to the church as a donation.”
“Should I tell them it’s for the television?” she asked.
“You own that television,” I said. “Just tell them it’s for the church.”