Yesterday, I went out to pick up fresh fruit and milk for my son Max, and a few items for myself. As I approached the supermarket/grocery store, a homeless man asked me if I could spare any change.
I had no cash on me, as I tend to purchase items with a credit or debit card. So, I said I was sorry that I did not have any money on me. He said “OK, thanks”. I paused for a moment, then moved towards the ATM, withdrawing what monies I had in my account.
As I passed him again to get a shopping trolley/cart, I asked the man if he was hungry; he said he wasn’t as he had just eaten a sandwich. I then asked him if he would like a drink; he said he would like a bottle of coca-cola. I said “OK”, and told him that if I had any money left over after my shop, I would give it to him.
Once in the store, the first thing I picked up was his bottle of coca-cola. As I pushed the cart around, I thought of this man more and more. He spoke good English, but I could hear a slight accent. Anyway, I picked up all the items I needed for Max, but left the items I needed for myself. It was the only way I would be able to give the guy any money.
After paying for my items, I left the store and handed the man his drink. However, I did not give him the money as I had planned to. What I did do, was talk to him. He may not have liked what I had to say, but at no point did either of us raise our voices, and to be honest, I think he was grateful that someone took time out to acknowledge him.
After he told me where he was from, it explained why there was a slight accent. I asked him why he would leave his country of origin to be homeless in another country? Not really explaining himself well, I went on to say that he is a country of opportunities, and that he should use that as a stepping stone to do better for himself. I asked him if he took drugs. He said he used to, but could no longer afford it, so now he doesn’t. I told him there are places he can go, hostels for example, where he will be helped to get back on track with his life. They will help him to find somewhere to live and will help him to get a job.
He told me he had been looking for work, but he has to do it online. I told him to go to the library, as he can look for work for free using their computers and internet. Even if he can only use the facilities for one hour a time, go away for half an hour, then go back. “I know, I have to make more of an effort” he said.
The conversation went on for quite a while. I reminded him that there are people worse off than he; those who are starving and truly suffering because there is nothing there for them. They cannot do anything about their siltation, but he can do something about his.
The conversation came to close with me telling him, “I come here every week to top up on groceries. When I come back in a few weeks time, if I see you here, I want you to be here because you are waiting for me, to tell me you are doing something to improve your situation. I don’t know what got you where you are right now, but you cannot remain like this. You need to let it go and pick yourself up. Make an effort with your life, because if you don’t, no one else will do it for you. Promise me, you’ll have good news for me in a few weeks”. He nodded, indicating that he would. I handed him the money I had needed for my own items in the store. I told him to get something to eat. He thanked me.
I could see the tears in his eyes. Tears were welling up in mine too. I could not let him see me cry for him. I grabbed my bags and walked away…
For some reason, this stranger touched my heart. I wish I could have done more for him, but I couldn’t.
The moral of this ‘story’?
I did not tell of this to make myself look good nor to get praise. I’m just trying to show that even with very little, you can still help a fellow human being.
The world can only become a better place if we are kind to each other.
Much love. ❤