Saturday, September 27, 2008
The other side of life
I promised a friend of mine that I would write about this. This is not about me, it's about being aware of your fellow human being no matter who he/she is.
I was in a grocery store (Bruno's) a few evenings ago, rolling my cart around, when I noticed a homeless man I see around the neighborhood once in a while at the takeout counter. I kept an eye on him, because I've seen people like him turned away, mercifully very rarely, if they were a few cents short and I've stepped in and paid for their food, and I wanted to make sure he got his food. He came away with little tub of soup. Taller than 6 feet, he was also very thin. He walked around the produce section, eating his soup, as if looking for something. I followed by instincts and went up to him. I was aware of eyes darting back and forth as other shoppers and workers looked over at us, but that didn't bother me.
"I'm still hungry," he said as if he knew what I was going to ask. "So I'm looking for something more to buy." He had maybe a dollar's worth of change in his hand.
"Miigwetch. What you're eating is not enough," I said, and slipped him a five-dollar bill, all the cash I had on me. "You need to get something more. " If you had seen the expression on his face, you would never ever pass a homeless person without acknowledging them ever again!
I rolled off into another aisle when a woman appeared out of nowhere and huddled against the cheese display. I looked up.
"I'm trying to get away from that man," she confided (not that I had asked). The tone was very familiar: She thought I was going to agree with her and be horrified.
"Why?" I said. "He's not doing you any harm."
A second of confused silence, and she said: "But he's eating his food in here!"
My instincts told me to move away fast or I would not be able to contain myself. I went to another aisle and felt like having a good cry. I have never come across this kind of behavior in Toronto. But it goes to show you, ignorance is everywhere.
I make a habit of carrying some loonies in my pocket. There are people out there who need the $$ more than I do. Something about "the least of my brothers" keeps flitting through my mind, but I can't place it. I'm sure someone will know.
Paul Newman, actor and philanthropist, would have understood what I'm trying to do in my own tiny little way.
He died today. I can't fathom a world without him.
Surely his spirit is now in a very, very bright and wonderful place.