There’s a homeless man who is often near the bakery at my office. He keeps coming to get the free treats that are put out at the same time every day. Last week I saw him at a table outside the Caribou. He had a warm meal in a styrofoam container and a cup of coffee. I was meeting someone for coffee.
When I went to get my coffee I decided to buy him a gift card. I’m not sure why and in hindsight, what was I thinking that he would like a Caribou card? I guess it was an impulse and I just did it.
I went to sit at another table and as I left to go to a meeting, I slid the card on this guy’s table and walked away. The person I was with asked if I knew him and I said yes. Why didn’t I just say no and admit what I was doing?
The next day, when I was getting another cup of coffee, the homeless man walked up behind me. I didn’t realize he was there but the counter person was clearly looking at something behind me. I turned around as he tapped me on the shoulder. He looked at me and said nothing. I looked at him and said nothing. Then he walked away. What’s my problem? Since when don’t I talk to a stranger?
How did he remember me? I literally slid the card on his table and quickly walked away. It made me think about where he came from. Who were he parents? Where did he grow up? What’s his story?
When the kids and I feed the homeless on Thanksgiving, there’s often a guy there who never talks and chooses to get his food last. But, he always plays the piano … beautiful classical pieces. Again, what are his life experiences? Where is he from? Last year we didn’t see him and we wondered …
It’s a good reminder that we just can’t judge people. What’s on the outside is not always what’s on the inside. All we can do is continue to engage in acts of quiet kindness.
After he tapped me and walked away, the person getting a coffee after me said that I had good karma and bought me a cup. How nice this world is! Even when I have tough days (or weeks, like lately!), I am always reminded how fantastic this experience of life is. I just want everyone else to have the same experience, and that’s not going to happen … and is it fair to impose even my great experience on others?
In any case, today might be a good day to try a random act of kindness. We all need it, although some more than others. Today my act of kindness is going to be sending my kids back to school. They just don’t see it as “kindness” — yet!
Have a great one!