Haves, have nots and humanity in the city

Image by fastcodesign

Image by fastcodesign

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

I have a story to share. I hesitated at first because I didn’t know how it would be perceived. I didn’t want anyone to think it was about me. Because it’s not.  Well, it says a lot about me, I guess, but the gorgeous soaring love I felt for humankind  arose, not from my actions but as a result of another’s.

I shared my story with a friend and she said to me: “Blog your story. That is a beautiful story, you must share it. Kindness does not go unrewarded! It makes me all teary again, how the haves are sharing with the have nots cos they want to and it feels right.”

So, one day, not so long ago…. there was a homeless man on the street. He had a message scratched on a sign, I glanced and walked away. How do explain myself? I can’t except to say I have always felt confronted by homeless people. I’m not sure why or where that comes from. I’m not an unkind person or lacking compassion but I do have a serious issue with knowing how to respond to someone in such need. How much is enough, is a little adequate?  Excuses I know.

Anyway, I felt guilty that I didn’t stop. But the further away I got the more embarrassed I was to turn back. I told myself stories to abate the guilt – I only had large bills or credit cards. I don’t really like to give money. Etc etc. I was surprised to sense a little voice in the back of all of this justification saying if he was there the next day I’d stop and read his sign.

As it turns out he wasn’t there but the day after that he was.

I’d left work early for an appointment but I stopped and tried to read his sign, it made little sense to me.  However, I spoke with him and told him I’d seen him a couple of days ago. I asked him where he slept and if he got any benifits. Then, as if watching myself from out of my body, I heard myself asking him if he’d eaten that day. He said he had but not much. I suggested we go see if the posh cafe I’d just walked past was still open. He agreed and quickly gathered his meagre belongings.

When we entered the cafe the guy behind the counter eyed us strangely and I almost thought he’d ask us to leave. When I asked for sandwiches he said he had none. I could see sandwiches, rolls and wraps in the fridge behind him. He told me they were stale and no good for eating. He said he wouldn’t even give them to me as they were too dry.  I turned to the homeless man and explained the situation. I was a little unsure how to proceed. Then I saw a cabinet with delicate sweets, I didn’t want to buy him sweets with no nutritional value but I spotted salads on the bottom shelf so I asked him if he’d like a salad. Yep. He did.

The young man who served us was so lovely, he kept calling the homeless man sir and asked him if he’d like to eat in or takeaway, if he needed a fork etc. He said he would add a danish and a croissant for later. He asked us if the meal would be eaten shortly or carried a long distance. He was concerned, as it had egg in it and didn’t want any health issues arising from overheated, unrefrigerated food. I asked my companion if he’d like a drink and we got a cappuccino, with two sugars. Again our waiter was charming and continued to address the gentleman by the title of sir, ensuring he had what he wanted. He made the coffee beautifully. Taking care to add just enough extra milk to top it up, wiping the cup free from spillage. He packaged it all up in a carry bag with a napkin and utensils and wished the man an enjoyable meal.

Once his package was in hand  the man left and I turned to the waiter to pay for the meal.   The lovely young man, who had treated a homeless man with dignity and respect looked at me, waved his hand and said, “There is no charge. You are a good woman. It’s on us”. I was blown away. Honestly, how lovely is that? How often have you witnessed something so beautiful? I walked  up the street on clouds of gratitude and love, with a swelling heart, marvelling at the depths of human kindness and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Aren’t humans marvellous?

This whole interaction occured as if within a bubble.  We three were connected for a short moment in time. A time within time. I felt buoyed by the love, respect and kindness I’d witnessed. I was reminded that we are all equal and that everyone, regardless of background, means or circumstance deserves to be treated with respect. I was reminded that we can share intimate meaningful moments by treating others as we would like to be treated. Gosh, imagine what we could do in the world if we were all a little more like the young waiter who served us.

(Here I am talking of intimate moments with two souls and I didn’t even asked either gentleman his name.)

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.  Joseph Addison

Embracing beautiful connections and never underestimating small actions.

Blessings to you all,


8 thoughts on “Haves, have nots and humanity in the city

  1. I am glad you chose to share this! Good on you for actually stopping to take the time. By doing so you were able to witness someone else displaying the same level of kindness! It really is uplifting to hear stories like this, thank you!

  2. Shannyn I am teary eyed reading this BRAVO! for posting it.
    I have done a lot of volunteer work with the homeless and at the Food Bank. The way to help someone on the street asking for money is exactly what has been done above. Give money donations to organizations who are working with the homeless and those in need. But in the moment this simple gesture of feeding provides nutrition, dignity, warmth, human love. I carry granola bars in my car, fruit when walking,and if i don’t have any food available to give off we go to the nearest restaurant. My friends and family know the routine. 🙂 Only once in at least a hundred encounters have I been turned away for not giving money. I wish I had a photo collage of the smiles on the faces of those who received this most basic and simple gesture.

    • Sue, I am so heartened to read your comment. I have been considering having a stash of fruit and bars on me as know work in the city and am likely to have more encounters with homeless people. I will definitely do this now. I considered getting some vouchers from supermarkets in the city to distribute, enabling choice for the recipients. I guess a little does go along way but kindness goes further. Thank you for firming my resolve.

      • Absolutely! I encourage you to go the route of food. My caution is you need to have your own safety always in mind. I won’t go into the talk on avoiding dark alleys but I am sure you get my drift.

        The other thing I have found in giving food or buying a sandwich etc is you model the way for others to handle a similar situation. I once came to a coffee shop where a gentleman was outside asking for money. I told him I couldn’t give him any money but would be happy to buy him some food and a coffee. He was grateful and was a bit hesitant to ask for more than a coffee. I insisted he tell me what he would like. Almost immediately I had other people on the patio and inside giving me money to buy food for the gentleman. They said they just didn’t know what to do.

      • Absolutely, I’m pretty good at self preservation. Lol. No dark alleys for me.😃.
        You’re right. An example helps everyone know what to do to help. You are such a wise woman. Thank you.

  3. Shannyn you are simply an angel …kindness is the human condition we should all use . I love this story and the fact you didn’t know either of their names didn’t matter in fact it added to the beauty . I will am looking for a situation so I can spread a little kindness just like you .

    • Cherry, thank you. It was a huge learning experience forme. I agree with you, kindness to each other is worth striving for, in some cases it costs only a smile or a simple hello. I wonder why it took me so long to act on this? I know you will spread much kindness and bring joy to hearts in need of comfort.

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