Friday, March 17, 2006

A Cold Day

*Re-posted from *elsewhere*
*See Denny -- I said I would and I did :)

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Yesterday while I was out working I had the saddest experience, typical I'm sure, but sad none the less.

I was talking with a friend on the phone while driving to a business engagement. As I pulled off onto the exit ramp there was an old homeless man on the corner with a sign asking for money, not *will work for money*, but just plain, simple, asking for money.

As I dug around in my purse for a loose dollar I heard the sound of my father's voice from my teenage years echoing in my head "He'll only use it to buy booze". And on the phone my friend said, "Just ignore him. That's how people get their cars hijacked you know?" Did I listen to her? Do I ever listen to anyone? No. Never. I follow my heart.

As I hunted in my purse I saw the driver of the SUV in front of me slowly, methodically, roll down his window, and, as the old man approached his vehicle, he launched a handful of loose change... nickles, dimes, pennies, towards the old man. They hit him, fell at his feet in the grass, some rolled down towards the storm drain, others hit the curb and rolled back out into on-coming traffic. Ah see? He would have to work for his money after all. I sincerely hope he was able to recover the change from the street without getting hit by a truck.

As I pulled up to the corner I rolled down the window and stuck my one dollar bill out. The cold wind hit my hand and threatened to tear the bill from my grasp. I realized then just how frigid the air was standing out on that ramp. And for hours. The cold only steeled my resolve to follow through with this simple act of kindness.

As our hands met on the dollar bill, that wrinkled piece of paper, in some way, making a connection as I had not yet let go of it. I thought of how these little things connect us for that one small second in time. And I thought, of course, that we are definitely in car-jacking distance now.

At that moment he glanced up at me. Bright blue eyes surrounded by a much-lined, dirty face that may have seen better days, or, then again, may have never seen a better day than today, I have no way of knowing.

The look on his face was one I won't forget for a very long time, not angry at having been pelted with loose change, not grateful that I was giving up my *much coveted* coffee money. (Yes, these days the budget is so tight that every dollar that I can scrape towards the *coffee fund* is coveted and huddled over in a most miserly fashion). But that look on his face. Unforgettable in it's honesty. He was humiliated.

The look of humiliation was heart-wrenching. His lips and chin quivering, his eyes brimming with tears, so that he could not hold my gaze. Such humiliation as I have only seen a child display.

The one emotion that, as adults, we refuse to show another.
Because of him I was reminded that there are people who live in that state every day.

And I was reminded just how wrong it is to do that to another human being. Humiliate them. Just wrong.

As I watched him back away towards the the curb, his eyes once again searching for the change strewn about on the street, a cacophony of impatient horns blaring behind me for holding up traffic, It was not the words of my father nor my friend that ran through my head.

It was the words of my grandmother. A saying I had heard her use time and again, and although I understood the meaning, I never understood it quite so well as when I was pulling away from that corner.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I know... I know.
I'm probably just a sucker for a dirty face right?
But hey, the blessing is on my head for caring as Father Savage once said. That's what is important. That I care about treating others well. As should we all.

Posted by Tricia :: 8:56:00 PM :: |

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