December 1, 2014
I Witnessed Something That Will Stay With Me Forever...
Like many I have doled out my share of spare change, coffee, and the occasional sandwich to countless homeless Americans living life on the streets. It is understandably tougher to witness the harsh realities during the times of the year when weather conditions make it increasingly more difficult to survive against the elements.
We recently returned from a short trip to Portland, Oregon. For those of you who have followed my blog for the past few years, you know that I am from the Northwest and spent much of my time in quirky Portland. (Side note: If you are at all curious about Portland, I wrote a blog titled A Love Letter To Portland, which goes into detail about this fantastic gem of a city)
But I digress...
The day before Thanksgiving I was walking a route that I had taken many times over the years. With my required Northwest beverage (coffee) secured tightly while navigating through the oncoming flow of shoppers, I witnessed something that will stay with me always. As the light turned green, I prepared to cross the street. A young woman caught my eye on the opposite corner. Twenties, Anthropologie~J.Crew style, and doing her best to jockey a familiar container of two grande coffees and a what appeared to be breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks. Doing an about face she knelt down to a woman sitting on the sidewalk, who was clearly flanked by all of her worldly possessions. Without an ounce of a condescending tone she chirped,"I have one pumpkin spice latte and one carmel macchiato. Your choice. I also have a sandwich if you're hungry."
Lovely, I thought. It is always nice to witness moments of generosity. Especially on chilly winter days when the rest of us are hustling to get ready for the holidays.
It's what happened next that brought tears to my eyes. As the woman graciously accepted her donation, the chic young gal plunked down onto the damp bricks below, introduced herself, and said, "So tell me your story. I want to know about you."
The women smiled in such a way that made it clear to this passerby that few had offered up anything more than the occasional handout in a really long time. As I looked back both were chatting happily as if they were lifelong gal pals.
In less than one minute, I was reminded of the true spirit of the season. While monetary donations are necessary to sustain those who are without, a personal connection is quite possibly the most generous gift we can give.