The whole interaction took only a few seconds and few words. But the heartfelt compassion behind such an act could be felt soul deep.
Just your run of the mill urban beggar. Asking for some change, if he’s lucky he may get a couple a bucks. I saw him talking to a guy at a corner seat outside Recess Coffee, probably drinking a latte, and I overheard him say he wanted to buy something to eat, but lacked the cash. Kylie and I were sitting nearby and didn’t pay much attention to the man asking for change. Unaware to the fact he would have such an influence on the rest of our afternoon.
Recess, a subtly chic coffee shop, located within a former one-family house with an attached wood deck on the front. The brown paint slightly chipping on the deck, but it most surely fits the neighborhood, worn in, but in a comfy pair of jeans way.
The shop, filled with a bunch of outcasts, university students, zany professors and other neighborhood weirdos calls the Westcott neighborhood home. Westcott has its own cast of characters, funky, eclectic, call it what you will, but it’s a different ‘hood and has its own vibe and appeals to both Kylie and I. As they say, “Keep Westcott weird.”
The neighborhood usually gets a bunch of passerbys, yuppies, students, and former and present hippies and, well, occasionally a beggar or two.
So when I saw this guy talking to the corner seated coffee house patron, I figured he was asking him for change. The man, accustomed to hearing no or I only have a credit card when asking for a handout, took the unfortunate news of no cash on the chin. And focused his sights on Kylie and I who were up and leaving the outdoor seating area and headed down the stairs right in front of the needy gentleman. Who then turned to me and asked, “Do you have any change, I’m trying to get something to eat.”
Headed to the bike rack, via the front stairs, I said and this was the truth, that I only have a debit card. But I then, quickly thinking, said I have this hot apple cider if you want it and I offered it out toward him. Hastily, he nodded his head and grasped the white paper cup of “chai-der,” a blend of chai tea and hot cider, and immediately started drinking from it.
It was cool that day, but not cold thanks to the sun. So I thought he may enjoy the warmed beverage. I smiled and we walked over to our bikes, which weren’t far from this guy who says to us, “It’s spicy!” I replied by telling him it’s a blend of chai and cider, he kept drinking, inside I laughed and we got on our way.
As we’re starting our ride down Harvard Street, Kylie in an anxious tone said, “I really should have bought him some food.” She continued, “You and I have no idea what it feels like to be hungry.”
I agreed with her and for the most of the bike ride home she was quiet in thought.
“You know what, screw it, I’m just going to do it, I’m going to bring him lunch,” Kylie said. I told her I’d help her whip something up and that I would go with her to deliver the meal.
I pulled out a couple cans of soup from the cupboard. With haste I set them on the counter. Clang! “Hey we have some rice, I’ll throw it in the soup!” “Nice!”
I was heating up the condensed soup, Kylie was preparing crackers and cheese, slicing a hefty slice of cake and grabbing bananas and pears.
Soup was done and hot, poured it into plastic wear. “Do we have any plastic forks and spoons?” I grabbed some utensils and napkins and tossed them in the plastic bag.
I could hear how serious Kylie was during preparing lunch, she really cared. She wanted to help, she wanted to make this guy’s day. Sometimes inspiration hits and kindness consumes a person. She needed to make his day. And I knew helping this needy fellow was going to make her day too.
Kylie is a giving person, loyal and determined to help rectify a situation. She draws energy from helping people, she’s not a people pleaser, but she has a social connection to everyone she encounters.
So we were out the door, honestly, I thought the guy was going to be gone. I figured he moved on. We took the Honda this time instead of biking. Turned onto Fellows Ave. and then onto Harvard, drove past Recess Coffee and there on the corner, there he was leaning against the wall of Mom’s Diner.
“Hey man,” I said out the drivers window to the needy gentleman. A second before I finished calling to him, Kylie was out the door.
“We just thought, we just thought lunch could be on us today,” she said to the man. “Really?” He looked on at her in disbelief, took the bag and just looked down at it. He didn’t say thanks, but he didn’t have to. And he walked on.
His surprise in the fact that anybody would give him lunch was enough for us to understand how grateful he was.
That afternoon I witnessed how Kylie connected, on such a simplistically human level, with that gentleman on the street. It’s so easy to be kind to one another, whether it’s preparing lunch, saying hello or smiling to someone or even holding a door open.
If we could each do one nice thing once a day for one person think how the world would change.