Monday, January 12, 2015

Just Another Day To Give

We gave each other something that morning.
Many years ago on a bus, I sat down beside a 40-ish, clean-cut, well-spoken man who offered me his neatly folded newspaper. I brightly replied, “Thank you. I need this today!” I am a woman of color and he was white. This is only significant in that I am always grateful for cross-cultural friendliness, where ever I find it, because there is so much hatred and prejudice still being propagated and generated.

So after I accepted the paper with a smile, he replied, “I picked it up at TCC.”

“Do you want some change for it,” I offered.

“No,” he replied. “They set them out for free.” After a pause, he humorously said, “I can always use a little change. No just kidding.”

I laughed and said, “We can all use a little change sometimes. You take classes at TCC,” I inquired, assuming that he was enrolled in some MBA-type program or something.

“No, I stay at the Union Mission,” he quietly replied.

“Oh,” I said, thinking how sad, but restful his spirit seemed.

“I work two part-time jobs,” I confessed. “They are both minimum wage and it’s difficult to get on my feet.”

“It’s hard for everyone isn’t it?” he empathized.

I began to dig in my purse for change, because not only have I had a desire to help others from my young-adult years, but also because I’ve been in various types of financial and employment struggles. I have empathy.

He said quickly and quietly, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.”

“But will you accept it anyway,” I pleaded.

“Yes,” he said with purpose.
I grabbed as much change as my hand could hold.
The bus was slowing for my stop and I grasped as much change as my fingers could touch. It felt like a lot of quarters, and I was glad. As I warmly placed them in his open hand, I felt his spirit soar. He seemed so happy about that handful of change and I felt the angels singing with him. When he said “God bless you,” I really felt the blessings of God being bestowed upon me. I just felt it, and spoke the same blessing to him.
I really needed the newspaper that morning.
 As I got up I said, “See you around.”

“Certainly,” he said, or something like that.

As I walked to the McDonald’s to get my cup of coffee, I was happy to have the paper to read. I reflected on how much I seemed to have in the eyes of that man. I actually had not just one job, but two, compared to his none. Sure they were both retail and didn’t even make up 35 hours a week, but how blessed I must have seemed to him. Then I thought I probably don't have enough for the cup of coffee I was so looking forward to. I had given him a lot of my change. When I got inside, I found that I still had enough change for the coffee, and then some. I had not even considered the amount that I was giving him when I dug into my purse. I just wanted him to have enough. In doing so, I was provided for.
Amazingly, I still had enough change to buy my coffee.
My situation must really have seemed almost like paradise to him. To be finished with the job search process. To be done with standing in line with five-hundred and fifty other people, for a handful of positions. To have the interviews behind me. To actually have some funds coming in. To have already received a paycheck. He had a bed for an extended period of time, in a residential shelter. There are so many others, though, who don't even have that.

Just think about all of the others who don't have a bed in a shelter, for whatever reason. Think about those who want a better life, but for some reason can't get into the right position at the right time to make it work. Think about the mentally-challenged who would not hurt anyone, but who are wandering the streets without anyone to assist them, because not enough people are helping. Think about all of those who fall through the cracks, because not enough people are helping. Think about the elderly on the streets.

Think about those who are hungry and want something to eat, but no one gives them a dollar because they decide that the person just wants a drink of wine. Think about those who were cheated and mistreated and are now living homeless as a result of it. Think about the veterans who are homeless, and the mothers with children, who don't have anywhere to sleep at night. Think about the children who are absolutely alone, for one reason or another, alone on the streets everywhere in the world...
Remember those who are struggling and who are less fortunate than you. The numbers are exploding, and most of them don't want to be homeless and jobless. Reach out today. Help someone. If you can help one person one time in your life, you have done a lot.
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