He was crying too hard for me to ignore him.
I was coming into work, laptop in hand, mildly heated at the problems I am having with a small "fix-it-ticket" about my address. I had just become a woman my mom would be disappointed in by dropping off my laundry at a "Wash and Fold" type establishment. After trying to get to washing clothes all weekend, I gave up the ghost and dropped it off for someone else to do it for me. So I was in the middle of thoughts about how malfunctional our legal system is (who has to go to traffic court in Redwood City for an address change and then get turned away and told to come back) and how malfunctional I am for not being able to do my own dang laundry and the variety of things my mom would say about it, when I heard a man on the street sobbing.
It seemed so normal for everyone, walking to work, ignoring the bum on the corner. I have to tell you, I do it too. But his crying. It was earth shaking. Just deep and painful. He wasn't asking for money, but he was crying about how hungry he was. I felt a lump in my throat as I watched how accostumed we've all become to this. I wanted to shout for the world to pay attention, ask them if they see how much work has to be done. Instead I approached him and asked him to come with me to Subway.
He kept asking me if I wanted to share his sub with him. It broke my heart.
All I could think of was my uncle. The one whose death I so brazenly hardened against because of how his drug use affected our family. Last year when they told me they found him on the side of the road, the tears I shed were minimal and I pushed it all to the back of my mind. Now I reflect on all the pain that he was in and I wonder if he ever begged anyone for food and if they ignored him on the street. It doesn't take away from the hurt he caused because of his sickness but I really do sit here praying he never found himself that alone.
The man kept thanking me. I wanted to give him sustance but I didn't want to cry in front of him or act all bountiful. I mean really, its humiliating enough to ask people for food, you don't need their condecension. I gave him directions to GLIDE, a church I know has an excellent homeless program that helps people get back on their feet and I left him with his tuna sub, tuna melt, chips, soda and brownie. He kept making the sign of the cross when he thought I wasn't looking and he blushed scarlett the entire time he accepted the meal.
I'm not special or a great person. I have quite a few friends that have done something similar, if not bigger, in the last month. It's what we do when one persons eyes/story/heart/face reach you in a way you can't turn away from. But I need to do more. God let me find solutions. The world shouldn't be like this. Not with so many of us doing well. That is my prayer for the day, let me find sustainable, scalable, empowering solutions. That and let my uncle be at peace wherever he may be.