This post has little if anything to do with training but volumes about life, generosity, kindness, and humanity. I just witnessed two of the most amazing and beautiful things I’ve seen in a long, long time. I’m going to set the scene so please stick with me and read on. (I didn’t do particularly well at grammar 100 years ago, so if I use too many commas, I’m sorry.)
I screened three teams of high school soccer players last night and collected a ton of data on them. This morning as I’m sitting at Magee’s Bakery having breakfast and a cup of coffee sorting through all the data and preparing to send emails, an apparently homeless middle-aged black man (I’ll call him Jerry) walked in to the bakery and took the closest seat to the door. It’s December 17th in Lexington, Kentucky and the unseasonably warm 60 degree weather that prevailed earlier this week has been replaced with a windy chill and temps hovering around 40. His old, slightly dirty, and tattered clothing are doing their best to keep him warm. Oddly, it looks like he’s carrying a small women’s purse which appears to have very few contents. As he takes in the upper-middle class scene (myself excluded) I can sense his trepidation to approach anyone. His once nice boots are untied and the heel of his right boot is no longer connected to the rest of the boot. His back is to me yet as he turns, our eyes meet briefly and I gave a quick smile before I return to my mountain of work.
I was waiting for Jerry to come ask me for money which I’m always hesitant to do. I would have gladly bought him breakfast and cup of coffee, but he was obviously nervous to walk over and ask for a handout. And I was nervous to offer him anything and risk offending him. This time of morning Magee’s is bustling with people coming and going hurriedly on their way to work or to take the kids to school. He quietly asked a few people for something and they declined and walked out the door quickly. By this point, I’ve become almost obsessed with observing this gentleman and his interaction with other customers as if I’m watching it unfold on TV. Then, an attractive 30-something white woman wearing lululemon pants and a nice jacket walks toward the door and he asks her for some money, she says she doesn’t have any cash and carries her things out to her car. Moments later, she returns and walks to Jerry and offers him a cup of coffee or breakfast. He takes her up on the coffee, but didn’t want to pour it himself. Why, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the stigma of a homeless person walking to pour a cup of coffee without previously paying for it?
She then said, “Come on, let’s make it together.” (My mouth is agape at this point.) She was clearly in a hurry but took time to help this man and actually invited him to join her to make him feel more comfortable in a place where by appearances, he stands out. From across the restaurant, I watched him show her which coffee he wanted, she poured it and Jerry slowly walked back toward his seat. She then stood in the line which was at least 5 minutes long. (Remember, this woman already bought her food and took it to her car!) While she’s in line, he asked several other customers for money almost all of whom declined. One guy left and came back with a brand new pair of gloves and handed them to Jerry. With the cold weather that’s on the way for central Kentucky this weekend, Jerry could use the gloves as much as anything else. After paying, she walked back to Jerry’s table, handed him his hot coffee and a $10 gift card and with a smile and pat on the shoulder wished him a Merry Christmas. I gave her a kind smile as she walked out almost to say, “Thanks for being human.”
I’m still sitting her typing this post and watching Jerry ask people for a handout. Someone else brought him another pair of gloves, and a woman (who seemed to be a regular here) brought him a doughnut and a smile. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just plain awesomeness but being witness to these few acts of kindness have almost brought tears to my eyes. You’re probably asking yourself, “why the hell didn’t you offer him something?” And to be honest, I’m not sure. Timing, atmosphere, not wanting to offend him, I don’t have cash on me…
I’m not making excuses for myself, in fact this reminds me that deep down, I think we all want to help people. It’s human. I’d like to help every person who needs it. But we can’t really do that. I may not have directly made Jerry’s day better, but I hope by being a quiet observer to this amazing scene, and describing it to you I’ve been able to help many other “Jerry’s”.
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, etc. Let’s do our best to make the world 10% happier.