Malinda Dunlap Fillingim was eight months pregnant and severely craving a fish sandwich and a glass of milk.
This was no ordinary craving. She needed that fish sandwich and that milk. She chalked it up to her baby, who was moving around in her womb, kicking as if to yell “I want fish! I want milk! Now!”
Fillingim was still working at an office, and that day she had been counting down until lunch time. The minute she was free, she rushed off to a nearby fast food restaurant.
“I relished the thought of that crunchy yet soft fish meal, with cool, refreshing milk washing it all down. My baby made a flip inside my big belly All was about to be well,” Fillingim recounted in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
“Or so I thought.”
Behind the counter was a young boy, who told her she owed $4.35.
Fillingim opened her wallet—she had $4.25.
Could she perhaps take the food, then borrow a dime from a coworker and pay him back right after? No.
No credit cards either—cash only.
“Listen, I urged, begging with a plea only an eight-months-pregnant woman understands, I HAVE TO HAVE THAT FOOD!” She was having a near meltdown. She would do almost anything to make up for that dime. Why couldn’t he understand?
“I debated whether or not I could lunge over the counter and grab that bag of delight he was withholding from me. Could I? Would I give birth to my firstborn behind bars? Would I hear ‘jailbird’ as I pushed out my daughter?”
Now people behind her were grumbling for holding up the line, all because she was short a tenth of a dollar. She threw the contents of her purse on the counter, but a dime could not be found.
Fillingim began to cry.
“I was so hungry and so tired. And so broke.”
Then a man tapped her on her shoulder, and handed her a dime.
“I hugged him. I told him I would name my child after him, only to see his shirt had the name ‘Herman’ on it, and I questioned my sanity,” Fillingim recalled. “Thank you sir, thank you. You have saved my life.”
The people behind him started to clap, and the terrified cashier—he had just made a heavily pregnant woman burst into tears over a dime—thanked him as well.
Fillingim ate as quickly as she could before making her way across the street to her office. Her baby kicked softly, “as if to say she appreciated Herman too.”
Then, having heard the story, one by one her officemates came by, and each one also gave her a dime.
“Each put a dime in my hand, laughing and telling me my daughter would be a fisherman,” she wrote. “You never know where hope might come from, even a dime’s worth in time of great expectancy.”