An unexpected encounter with the less fortunate
|On my way to the train station going to San Francisco, I decided to stop at the theater to buy a ticket for tonight's feature. The aroma of popcorn lured me in, so I bought a bag to snack on while on the train. I tucked it into my bag.
The train was full of people so I decided to wait to enjoy my treat. Maybe I'd have it after my dentist visit.
I thought about the homeless problem in San Francisco I saw it many times--people laying on the sidewalk, with cardboard signs begging for anything you might give them.
After arriving at the right stop, just like everyone else, I rushed toward the turnstiles. On either side of me, men wore suits and neckties, and carried briefcases Women were in dresses or pant suits. Maybe they were on their way to the mall or going to work. I hurried to catch the Metro at the other end of the station. I didn't want to miss my dental appointment.
On my way and off to my left, I passed by this little old lady, who was digging through the trash. She never looked up or approached me.
After passing by her, I slowed down, hesitated, then stopped dead in my tracks as if I was stunned. I spun around on my heel and walked back to her and asked, "Did you lose something? What are you looking for? Can I help you find it?"
"I'm looking for food. I'm hungry," she said in a weak voice.
My heart sank along with my shoulders. It was then that I noticed the ragged clothing, the unkempt hair, and the sun-weathered skin. No, this was not a previously planned scheme to make me feel sorry for her. This was possibly everyday life for her and countless others.
I was but one person. What could I do to help? I knew I had no money on me so I couldn't give her any. I searched through my bag for anything remotely resembling food. Maybe I had some gum, or package of crackers, which I sometimes kept in there. There wasn't even a granola bar to give her. Time was ticking by and I needed to go.
I stared at my freshly popped buttery popcorn. I had really looked forward to having it. Oh, how I wanted it. The scent alone made my stomach growl.
I looked again at this poor woman. She was starving. Maybe she hadn't eaten anything in days. It wasn't a balanced dinner, but at least the popcorn was food.
I decided. I did the only thing I could. I handed it to her, all of it. And said, "Please take it. It's yours. I have to go now. I'm so sorry."
She took it like it was a prized possession, smiled, and thanked me over and over again. I'm pretty sure others were watching us. I didn't care what they saw or what they thought either.
The last thing she said as I rushed away was, "God bless you!"
I was late. I had to re-appoint. I lived pretty far out of town. I never told anyone why I was late. I pretty much thought it would be frowned upon. I never mentioned it to my son until much later.
It just felt hurtful if I was to ignore this little lady. She was someone's mom or grandma, obviously living off the streets scrounging for food. . I'm not sorry I did it. I just wished I could have done something more long lasting.
I came back by there later, but she was nowhere that I could see, even though by this time I had some money. I couldn't tell you what she looked like either as everything happened so fast.