A new cast of players appeared in my game of life today. That’s not a unique dynamic, of course, since we move alongside untold numbers of people during our daily navigation and there will be another new cast tomorrow. It’s just a same kind of different, I suppose. Like my evening “routine”, which too frequently includes:
- Leaving work a little later than planned
- Stopping by the grocery store on my way home
- Planning dinner on the fly
Tonight I purchased five items. Zipping in, around and out of the market without much notice of others doing the same. Until.
Until I noticed.
A young girl, about 10 years old, who couldn’t get her passenger-side door open due to my fully extended driver-side door. After clearing away and apologizing for the impediment, I noticed again. Two spaces over and up on the sidewalk, a man sat with his bold black-lettered handwritten sign.
While not a harden rule of not giving money to people in such circumstances, I still habitually turned back to the task of rolling my emptied cart into the closest corral. Yet, for some internal reason, I couldn’t un-notice this man. Not wanting to later regret my inaction, I shifted from habit to deliberate, and made my way toward him. “Would you be interested in a yogurt drink and banana?” He lifted his downturned face in my direction and nodded agreeably.
There was nothing extravagant or costly given. Just two items, which the man started eating immediately.
Back in my van and looking both ways before backing out, the driver in a Suburban caught my attention by pointing to her back seat. Not sure what she was trying to communicate, I rolled down my window and heard the words, “My daughter’s crying.” Her daughter being the same young girl trying moments earlier to squeeze around my opened door. While driving away, her mother’s final words were “You did a good thing. Thank you for setting a good example.”
In hindsight, taking a few minutes to also sit down next to the man, ask his name and open up a conversation would have made the greater human deposit. I wish I’d done that. There’s always more that can be done. Who knows why the young girl was so tender toward this moment. I meant to make a minor impact on the man with the sign. He was my focus. I wonder, however, if what I didn’t mean to do – impact that young girl – might end up being the longer lasting encounter.