I was at lunch today and saw a very kind-hearted thing. I saw a good deed, no Tyler Perry. I saw one human being reach out to another one and meet that persons needs. This lady walked up to a homeless man who is always around my office and gave him “some homemade with love on top” tacos. This cat didn’t really know how to handle the gesture. You could see the confusion on his face as he jerked back from her initial offering of the tacos. She offered the bag full of tacos to the man again and he accepted, still somewhat confused by what was happening. The smiled and thanked his good Samaritan and just as she turned to walk away he reached out and grabbed her hand. I immediately became alarmed because this homeless man had touched this woman who went out of her way to be nice to him. I felt like an ass when he gently asked her name and introduced himself as, “Wayne.” And like that she was gone, back to work, back to her life.
Now I see this man darn near everyday. I have been polite and said hi but that’s about it. But never had I asked this man who I see nearly everyday what his name was. Never thought to go out of my way to help or feed him. To have a real conversation with him, instead of humoring him as I hurriedly walk into my building.
As I sat and watched him for the rest of my lunch, I realized, that though i wasn’t the only person to ignore Wayne, that Wayne was a popular guy! All the construction workers knew him, the maintenance guys, the janitors, and even a few docs! Then I realized while I was watching Wayne, he was watching me! I don’t know what he was thinking and it doesn’t matter. But I know what he didn’t see. He didn’t see a man who had lived up to his faith and his self-proclaimed love for people from the bottom. He didn’t see a man in tune with his surroundings and community. He didn’t see who I thought I was. I go out of my way to talk to complete strangers in the elevater. Just to say hello or good morning. Thinking that my cheerfulness is a reflection of me and that it will hopefully rub off on someone, one day. These are people I don’t see often, don’t know, and likely can give two Kardashians about my positive outlook. But I ignored Wayne.
This woman’s good deed called me out. I know it’s not my job to help every homeless or indigent person I see, but after seeing Wayne for almost 2 years I should have at least bought him a cup of coffee, offered him half of my subway sandwich, something! Before I left to go back to work I introduced myself to Wayne and made a personal commitment to look out for him every now and again. Not out of pity or me feeling sorry for him, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because God has blessed me with means to help. And because if I am going to be the man I claim, it should be old hat by now.