Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Small Acts of Compassion

Tonight my heart is full of admiration and respect for one of my very good friends who also happens to be my roommate. This evening she asked me if I would go out to dinner with her and I joined her at the local diner at the corner.

At one point in the evening, she disappeared for a while and I couldn't exactly figure out why she was standing on the other side of the room talking with the manager. She looked like she was planning something and when she came back to the table, I decided to drill her about what was going on. At first she seemed hesitant to tell me, but then she said, "I was talking to the manager about buying a homeless lady dinner".

I sort of sat there in shock for a moment. We live in an area where lately I have been seeing tons of extra homeless people and it has been bothering me sometimes when I am driving home late at night and I see them laying on the benches to sleep. It's always bothered me when people come up to my at stores and ask for money, and I never give it to them because I just make a prejudgment that the person will use it for drugs or alcohol.

As I was sitting there thinking about it, the manager approached the table and said, "You don't have to buy her dinner if you don't want to. She comes in every single day. She must get some kind of disability or something because every month she comes in with a check. She just said that tomorrow she is going to the psychiatrist".

My friend said, "That's okay. I will buy her whatever she would like to eat".

At the moment I suddenly remembered that this type of thing had happened years ago. She had told a homeless man that he could have whatever he wanted and he bought lobster. At the time, I told her, "Geez, if I were homeless and someone was going to buy me a free meal I definitely wouldn't ask for something very expensive". She said, "I don't care; I just want to buy him dinner. It's not as if I am wanting for money".

So tonight as we were leaving and we walked outside past the homeless lady's basket, I just felt such a sense of guilt. The lady was sitting at the table, wiping her eyes from crying because according to her no one has ever bought her anything before. I felt so guilty because I am such a greedy bastard. I will give my time and energy, working my ass off to help people and bending over backwards to help. But I just haven't had the compassion to give away my money to people.

And then afterward I went to the store, and told a man "No" when he asked me if I had any change. So.  Nonetheless, I think it was a nice thing for my friend to do what she did tonight.

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