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



Comments

  1. Ugh!! Like...where is that woman from, the 1800s?? She can't BE AROUND people like that? Like their presence will upset her baby or something? OMG. Seriously. Wow. How does she even make it through life. Thank YOU for doing the right thing...I'm glad you're you.

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  2. Thank you so very much for sharing this story. I commend you for showing such tact and grace on dealing with such an ugly person ( not the homeless man either). It is nice to know that not all people are selfish pigs.

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  3. What a great story. She was the true ugly person. Wow that woman makes me sad. Way to pay it forward... I'm sure you brightened his day.

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  4. I love this story. I know we all already know this, but just because you can grow a baby in your belly doesn't make you a good human being. I feel sorry for the child she's going to bring into this world and the fact that it will never learn compassion and empathy unless it meets people like you at some point.

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  5. Beautiful story! What a beautiful kind gesture. The works needs more people like you.

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  6. Wow.

    Just...wow.

    I'm so very glad that you are not her too.

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  7. Wow, SO NOT what I thought she was going to say!!
    Wonder how she is going to deal with daily smelly explosions from her baby?
    Good for you for your compassion. I am sure you also made a lot of other people in the place think twice (but in a good way).

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  8. Thank you for this story Janet. I feel sorry for that woman, that even if she has the very thing that so many of us covet, she doesn't really have the joy in her heart to appreciate it, or the compassion to pay it forward.

    You, on the other hand, are awesome and inspiring.

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  9. Wow - just wow. I cannot believe that woman's reaction to your kind gesture. The world would be a better place with more people like you in it!! xoxo

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  10. ok, in a matter of minutes, i'm feeling so many things right now. first off, i have tears in my eyes. because, you're just incredible. second, i want to punch that b in the face. third, i LOVE this story...minus the big B. and fourth, you're just awesome, janet.
    no doubt, you made that man's day. <3<3<3

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  11. Woah. I'm glad you're you too, Janet. And I hope she took a little bit of your compassionate lesson to heart... or else I'm scared for that kid.

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  12. This story is wonderful. It deserves to be developed and put into a book of short stories. You know what is funny about it? When I was reading it, I was wishing I were YOU. I am one of those people that would have just walked by. I would have walked by and wished I had done something. It's almost like I don't feel confident enough in myself to do the right thing or something. I'm proud of you for being the type of person I want to be.

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