Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Please Don't Misunderstand

So - I thought about not writing this post... then I thought about not writing it again.

I'll probably reconsider it yet again before I'm done.

Truth be told, I'm nervous to post these two stories because I want my true intention to shine through. I don't want there to be any room for misunderstanding or questioning motives.

I've had two instances in the past week - two interactions with people a little down on their luck - and I just feel like I need to share.

I guess I should stop explaining now, and just start telling...

So, last week I was heading back to our office after a morning of lots of driving to multiple meetings. I had to park on the 8th floor of our parking garage - usually I get a spot on the 4th floor - annoyance number 1.

Then, I decided to take the elevator and had to wait 5 minutes for it to arrive - seriously, it felt that long. I should've just taken the stairs, but I just kept thinking "well, I've already waited this long" - annoyance number 2.

Next, we stopped on the 7th floor... the 6th floor... the 5th floor... the 4th floor.. before finally arriving at street level. Take the stairs people - yes, I'm a hypocrite - annoyance number 3.

As I walked in the glory of the sunshine back to the office - a very, very, VERY loud car horn kept honking. I have sensitive ears people - it's an actual condition - and it was annoyance number 4.

I was finally just outside of my office building when a man on the street asked if I had any money for food. No sooner had I gotten 10 feet past him, the thought occurred to me, "Here's the chance to turn your day around. Don't let your bad attitude stop you from doing something you feel called to do. It's not his fault you're in a crummy mood and a bit high maintenance when it comes to what annoys you."

I did a 180 and walked back over to him. "Sir, if you want to come in the bagel shop with me, I'd be happy to buy you some food."

Now, I love me a good bagel. So the guys in the bagel shop know me and did their usual "Lizzzzzzz! Heeeeyyyyy! What can we get you?" "Whatever this gentleman wants." As he looked over the menu and ordered, I could feel their eyes on me. I started to feel uncomfortable. I didn't want them to make a big deal over what I was doing.

In fact, I didn't even want to acknowledge it. [I think that's why I'm struggling with writing this post.] Yes, I was doing something nice. But I do plenty of not-nice things every week. Those don't get featured, I didn't want this to be either.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon.

A man - who looked a bit worse for the wear - came into the boutique where I work on Saturdays. I immediately went into a funk. [Seriously - what's my deal?!] I was preparing myself for him to ask to use the restroom, for money, etc. We have some unusual folks wander in every once in a while.

I'll be real honest with you guys, I was a bit nervous to be alone in the store with someone who had yet to acknowledge any of my usual "Hi! How are you? What can I help you with?" cheery greetings.

He got up to the counter and motioned for a pen and piece of paper. Slightly annoyed he still hadn't acknowledged me, I handed him the paper and pen. He wrote, "Please call cab."

For a brief moment I thought, "What happens when I call a cab and he has no money to pay for it? What then? This could be so awkward." But, I called the cab company anyway.

The dispatcher asked for his name. "What's your name sir?" He pointed to his ears and tried to say something.

Light bulb: He's deaf.

I tried to stall and gave them the address for the store, while writing a note to ask him his name. After I got off the phone and wrote down that the cab would arrive in 15 minutes, Thomas [that's his name] picked up one of the bracelets by the counter and reached for his wallet. He had the biggest smile on his face and kept showing me the bracelet and some cash.

Cue the water works welling up.

I smiled back at him and said [wrote] it was okay, he didn't need to buy anything. I was happy to call the cab company for him. He kept smiling, folded his hands in front of him and did a little bow. He then walked outside to wait for the cab.

I saw the cab pull up and he gave a big wave as they drove off.

Cue the tears and such a heavy feeling of "I almost didn't help this man."

Kimmy just happened to walk in the store right as he left. You guys, God knew how badly I needed a friend at that moment.

Yes, I did a nice thing by calling the cab. But I had a terrible mindset while I was doing it. It wasn't until that light bulb went off and I realized that this man was humbling himself & asking for help, that I finally got off my high horse and changed my mindset to joy. How would I have felt if I wasn't physically capable of getting myself home without the assistance of others.

I told Kimmy the story and kept saying, "But I almost didn't help him! How terrible of a person would that have made me? What's wrong with me?!" She gave me a hug and said, "But you did help him. You did a good thing."

I think I've gotten so jaded by seeing the same people begging on the street every day, not to mention all the news stories that paint it all as a scam, that my heart has hardened a bit towards those that actually need my help.

I'm a bleeding heart through and through - and I don't want to lose that. I think that having those two experiences, within 3 days of each other, is shedding some light on an issue that I need to turn my focus towards.

Who am I to judge or question anyone's station in life? It is simply my role to give help when I can -- and never forget the smile and appreciation of a man named Thomas.

xoxo, E

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