Pocket Sized Announcement 28
Last night, during the chaos of being short staffed and a sudden rush of people, we had a middle-aged woman come in and order chicken fried rice. She sat at the front and the host took her order and gave her a glass of water as she waited for her meal. A little while later, the host came to the back to grab a to go cup and ice. She looked at me and said with a concerned and puzzled look on her face, “I think this woman is homeless…She wanted to take her water to go.”
As the night progressed and I started closing up, the sushi chef came in and in broken English proceeded to tell me how, as he walked the front of the shopping complex, she sat on the sidewalk and ate her meal. He asked her where she had gotten the food, and then explained he worked at the restaurant she got her rice from. He came back in briefly before going back out and giving her a California roll.
He then asked me why she was homeless. I couldn’t give him an answer. Question after question came as this appeared to be something that hadn’t happened to him before. It’s not as though he didn’t know what a homeless person was, but it certainly was strange she was where she was, for that area is quite an expensive area to live in, and, I believe, there is no public transportation to or from there. Had she been living near where I live, or even downtown, that might make finding temporary shelter a bit easier. But, from what the sushi chef told me, she was just waiting for all the shops to close so she could sleep on the sidewalk.
He made another trip into the kitchen and then came out with a small bag of cut up apples. He looked to me, feeling the need to explain the reason he was going outside once more. “I give her apples from my lunch.”
I finally closed up the restaurant and took my leave. I didn’t see much of her when she came in - I was in the back taking care of orders and the like. And she didn’t come back into the restaurant asking for the food, or even more water. All I knew was that she was somewhere along the strip of shops (and it’s not a very long strip). I’m not sure what compelled me, but as I was pulling from the back of the restaurant, I made a quick detour into the gas station and bought two gallon jugs of water. If anything, she definitely needed to stay hydrated. The nights have been cold and the days have been pretty warm. But I think the thing that compelled me the most was the chef’s question of “what’s going to happen when winter comes?”
Would she make it until winter?
I’m not looking for praise. And I want to believe I didn’t do this to just make myself feel better. I’m sick and tired of seeing entitled people day in and day out piss and moan about anything and everything; I will admit I do my fair share as well. I am not trying to belittle another’s pain. Hardships come in all shapes and it is not okay to invalidate another’s suffering just because someone “has it worse.” But perhaps you can take a moment to appreciate what you do have. I know I did.
I guess my PSA is this: Treat others kindly.
I feel we’ve become people too wrapped up in ourselves to really notice others. Random acts of kindness as simple as holding a door for another person seems to be rare. I’m not saying you need to go out and give people money, food, clothing, shelter. But even just giving them the time of day can mean all the world to them.
For the three dollars and some change it cost me to give that woman - a person whom I looked at for but a second - I received the saddest, happiest, most genuine smile I have seen in a long while. I don’t remember what she looks like. I remember a red shawl upon her shoulders. But the emotions that came over me when I saw her smile is forever burned into my heart.