tell me your story and i'll give you $1

Tell Me Your Story And I'll Give You $1

“Why are you doing this? Are you really giving free money for stories? Wait, that is not how it works” 

Before I can even ask anyone questions, every person had the same one for us. They had ask if it was for a school project, a psychology experiment, a scholarship, and often times people initially thought I was homeless asking for money and when they realize what the sign says they got shock and tell me that is not the way it should be. My answer was clear: “I love getting to know new people and experiencing another person’s point of view, I love to hear stories, it is not for school or anything like that”. 

I’m sure you have all see the picture of a man holding up a sign that says “Tell me your story, and I’ll give you one dollar.” It is something that struck me as something very moving. One day I decided that I should attempt to execute his idea.  

So the night of October 3rd I was a bit anxious, I was still evaluating the idea in my head over and over again. I already had everything I would need to perform the idea, but I was still scared to do it. I would not know if I would be brave and strong enough to do this. I called two of my friends for advice, Caroline and Kimberly told me that it was a good idea, they liked the idea and they told me that everything would be fine.I told them and asked them for advice because I knew they would support me and would encourage me to do this madness. I knew I could tell anyone else about this story even some people who lived in my town, but I was terrify by the idea that someone were going to see me and I would not perform my project because of fear. 

So I grabbed my backpack and put in it what I would need, I packed my GoPro camera, a tripod, extra battery, markers, something to eat, a blanket, a pillow and a wallet with the money I would use, I prepared a stool and the sign.  

I was ready, but still missing a few hours for the sun to shine and start a new day; I knew I needed a few hours of rest, but have you ever feel that even when you try you can’t sleep? I mean, if you have an important event something that will change your life I do not think you could sleep. It’s like once I read that an astronaut was so excited to travel to the space that he could not sleep for 7 nights thinking about that day; so was I, anxious and nervous but excited at the same time. 

So the morning of October 4rd I parked my car at the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga, TN and I started to walk towards to where I would do the project. Before setting where I would, two girls walked up to me and asked what I was doing, so I explain to them and one of them said “Wow, you’re a genius” but neither of them wanted to share their stories. So it was the first time I doubt about it. But I kept walking and settled next to the bridge, prepare everything and put the sign and I finally sat down, I observed how some people looked at me weird, some walked by and read the sign and walked away talking about it with their friends. 

After 20 minutes when I was about to leave because I was feeling like it was not going to work out, I saw a couple with a baby in a stroller, the woman stopped in front of me and, read the sign and smiled then she looked at her husband right in the eyes and told him to wait a couple of minutes in the bench in the other side of the bridge. she was telling me her story! I couldn’t believe it. So I was there listening to the first story from a strong woman who had been through many humiliations in her life and had been beaten by her ex-husband, when she finished telling me her story I just smiled and thanked her offering her the dollar to which she rejected and thanked me for doing this, she needed to tell her story to someone. 

I sat there for 7 hours and listened to stories all day with no breaks in between. I’ve learned so many life lessons in those seven hours. Words can’t express how grateful I am to all those who stopped and shared their lives with us. Everyone has a story, and strangers are more alike than you’d think. 

At the end of the day I heard 38 stories from alcohol problems, to turning into a Christian, from how they met their soul mates to how they lost their friends. Even a kid walked by and made me explain to him what was this about so I did, his dad runned to us and made him leave but the kid wanted to cheer his story and his dad looked at him and said: “You are 13 years old you don’t have a story to tell” the kid looked at him and left with him, then later that day I saw the kid coming back with his mom and he sat in the pillow and said: “I am ready”  so he started telling me a story about a dragon that used to live in the highest mountain of the kingdom of the majestuous king and related how the king sent a knight to kill the dragon. I was so concentrated hearing the story that I didn’t realize the kid’s father was there listening to him with an angry face and also mad at his wife. Then the kid said, I would kill a dragon if I need to rescue and protect my parents, they are the most important thing I have in the world and I love them. The kid’s dad started to cry and went to hug his kid and apologized to him and thanked me.  

I spent $12 dollars because the other 26 people didn’t want to take the dollar because they thought it was a great idea, some of them even said they were going to do it.  

The last story I heard was a guy around my age that sat right in the other side of the bridge in front of me, he sat with his guitar and started to play and sing and I was shocked how good his voice was, he kept singing the same song again and again, “Tell me where you’re hiding your voodoo doll ‘cause I can’t control myself, I don’t wanna stay, I wanna run away but I’m trapped under your spell. and it hurts in my head and my heart and my chest, and I’m having trouble catching my breath.” He explained to me that he sings that song by 5 seconds of summer because he left his town to come and live with the love of his life, his soul mate but she was just manipulating him and left him, he didn’t have the money to go back to his town and that is why he was singing in the park asking for money. 

At the end a cop came and told both of us to leave the place because we were not allow to ask for money, I tried to explain the cop I was not asking for money but he never understood the project.  But I left happy, I finally did it!

The day you spoke to me again I cut off everything. I poured out my liquor. I deleted all of my frequent hook ups numbers. I dumped my pills and coke in the toilet. I don’t need them when I have you, even if it’s just 1 text a week. Knowing I even crossed your mind is enough to keep me sober, to give me a reason to clean up. You are my drug of choice. God I hope this works.
—  A.L.