I Wished I Was Her
Most of the time I bring a lunch to work (most of the time) but today was not one of those times. It’s a beautiful day out, unusually warm and sunny for this time of the year, so I decided to walk to Tim Horton’s up the road for a sandwich.
As I neared the front of the coffee shop, I noticed a man sitting on the curb…he was unkept, shoulders slumped with a frown on his face. It was pretty clear to me that this was a man who was down on his luck. There were a few people in front of me heading to the front door, who I’m pretty sure noticed the same thing about him that I did. They were very clearly trying to avoid looking at him, even more so when he meekly asked if they had any spare change for food. Not one of those people in front of me acknowledged his presence, let alone made eye contact with and answered him.
Unlike the people in front of me, I didn't look away. I answered him.
I told him that I did not have spare change but I did have my Tim Horton’s card with me and if he would like to come in with me, I would buy him a coffee and something to eat. I was struck by the genuine surprise on his face as I answered him.
Yes…yes he would like to come and get a coffee and something to eat very much.
I opened the door and in we went.
I immediately noticed her…a woman about my age, wearing something similar to what I was wearing and a very round, very pregnant belly and I immediately wish I was her! Oh how I very much, in that moment, wanted to be her. Pregnant.
I placed my order and handed him his coffee and bagel, he gave a quiet ‘thank you’ and was on his way. I stood at the counter waiting for my sandwich and that pregnant lady, who I wished I was, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me…
“Do you know him?”
I replied “No, no I don’t know him.”
“Then why did you bring him in here and buy him something? He’s dirty, ugly and smells and now you've spoiled my lunch. I’m pregnant. I can’t be around gross people like that. Please do not bring him in here again. What’s wrong with you?”
I have to admit, I was stunned into silence. I couldn't for the life of me understand why this woman was upset that I bought a stranger a coffee and something to eat. Was he less deserving than her and I because he was (according to her) “dirty, ugly and smelly”?
I told her that everyone deserved a little kindness, grabbed my sandwich and was on my way…and in that moment I was so very, very thankful that I wasn't her.
|Illustration by Michael Leunig|