I was on my lunch break in the city, enjoying a salad at an outdoor cafe, when a disheveled homeless lady came walking towards me. Â She was yelling and begging everyone who walked past her for spare change and she looked like a mess. Â My instant reaction was fear… to close off and hope she didn’t come near me, but she did. Â I was on the phone and when she came over yelling, I said, “I’m on the phone,” in the nicest way I could, assuring myself what she needed was a lesson in manners. Â After all, that is rude to interrupt someone and I have very little money as it is, if she only knew and on and on… Â She walked away, mumbling, “I’m annoying you. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Â I’ll leave.” Â And she turned the corner.
Normally, I would feel relieved or satisfied, but something in me couldn’t rest. Â Without another thought, I looked in my wallet for the spare change I had. Â It was just dimes and pennies, but I found a few and was going to give them to her. Â Suddenly, something amazing happened. Â I started searching through my entire purse, the bottom, the pockets, everything – for ALL of the change I could possibly find to give, and something in me cracked. Â It felt like my heart broke and poured open and the restlessness abruptly stopped.
I got up and walked towards this lady as she was ranting and yelling and said, “This is all that I have.” And for once, I meant it. Â It wasn’t just some cop out, or some pained smile — for once, I reached out and gave a person all I had. Â She held my hand and said, “Thank you! Thank you!” Â Her hand was calloused, and rough and dirty, but I didn’t mind holding her hand. Â I wanted to be there for her for some reason, when normally I would turn the other way.
She looked at me and said, “Will you touch my face?” And for some reason, I did. Â I reached up and put my hand on her cheek and she started to cry. Â Her manic energy stopped and she was still and calm and it sent a shock through me that I can’t really explain. Â Right there, on the corner with people walking all around, I sat there for a few brief moments with my hand on her cheek. Â Her rough hand, over my soft, manicured hand. Â I could sense it was as if she had not been touched by a loving, soft hand in ages, if ever, and so I held it there, trying to comfort her with my heart open. It was powerful.
After a few moments, my embarrassment of what others might be thinking kicked in, and I took my hand away. Â I said, “Take care of yourself, okay. Â You will be okay. Â Just take care of yourself. Be careful.” Â She thanked me, and she walked away quietly. Â She wasn’t yelling or begging anymore, and I walked away with an open heart, trying to make sense of what had just happened.
I don’t know if it mattered, or if she was just crazy, or if I am crazy, or what. Â I wasn’t even going to tell anyone about this because I felt embarrassed and strange after this bizarrely intimate experience, but my roommate found this website and insisted I tell my little story. Â I don’t know why I did what I did, and I don’t really know what happened on that street corner, but it changed something in me and has made me want to be a kinder person to the people I meet during my day.
(posted by anonymous)