The sun was peeking out from over the huge skyscrapers and casting its early morning orange light across the whole city. Sirens and car horns yelled in the distance. A constant hum of people talked and moved from one place to another. Just a normal Tuesday as usual.
I was walking to work when out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly lady with short vibrant white hair carrying two large grocery bags talking to a man who sat on the curbside. Holes decorated his dirty, yellowing t-shirt, and a sign laid at his feet with big black letters written in sharpie that said, “Fired from job. Anything helps.” She bent down and handed him one of her grocery bags. He looked up at her with a look on his face like he had seen a ghost. His expression quickly turned into a huge smile. He took her frail small hand in both of his and shook it.
“Thank you. Thank you,” he said repeatedly. She nodded and continued on with her daily business.
I froze on the sidewalk. Why would she do that? That’s probably almost $20 worth of food! She doesn't even know him. Weird. I shrugged and continued on my way to work. I have bigger things to worry about than other people.
After a long day at work, my best friend Huntley and I were talking on the phone. We do this everyday, no matter what. I was walking quickly to get to the store before it closed as she was telling me about her day. She works at Macy’s.
“God, some people are so annoying. All I do, all day, is be nice to people, and it takes all my effort not to tell one of the picky little idiots off. When I got home from work, I just screamed. For like two minutes. Then I fell asleep, and here I am. How was your day?”
“Boring, as usual. Not very exciting times at a paper company. Not even any drama. I
hate it.” I passed the spot where I saw the homeless man and the old woman. They were both long gone by now. Thinking of what I saw this morning, I told Huntley about it and asked, “Why do you think she would do something like that?”
“She probably wanted to do something nice for the less fortunate,” Huntley replied. “Gotta go, Bye!”
“ Bye,” I said very disconnected from the conversation. As I walked, all I could hear were the words she just told me. Something nice for the less fortunate...
At the store, I was in the checkout line, waiting on a woman in front of me. I looked up when I heard the man working the register say, “I’m sorry but your credit card was declined.” The woman frantically searched through her wallet as I waited behind her.
“Sorry,” she said weakly and walked quickly with her head down out of the store. Ugh people like these waste my time when I have important things to do. I watched her turn the corner out the door.
Outside the grocery store, food in hand, I saw the woman who couldn’t pay crying on a bench. I suddenly had a bad feeling in my stomach. She doesn’t have the money to buy food. The woman wiped her eyes and lifted her head to see me. I gave her a slight smile of encouragement. I remembered what Huntley said on the phone, “She wanted to help the less fortunate.” I turned the corner towards home with her voice ringing in my ears.
The next morning I awoke to hear rain pounding on my windows and thunder shaking the furniture. The sun wasn’t shining behind the menacing dark clouds in the sky. Outside a river was rushing down the street alleys and cars’ tires were slipping. I hate this weather.
I couldn't see anyone's faces under hoods and umbrellas as they walked quickly hoping not to get so wet. I was fighting against the wind to keep my umbrella in my hand and my hood covering hair. Water squished out of the soles of my shoes with every step I took.
Through all the tall umbrellas, straight ahead of me, I saw one woman soaked to the bone with no umbrella or jacket, hustling through the rain to get where she was going. She kept her head down away from the rain, and without seeing where she was going, her head rammed into my shoulder, the impact almost causing me to fall over.
“Sorry!” she apologized.
“Oh it's fine,” I looked her up and down, her heavy clothes sticking to her skin. Her long dark hair was a mess whipped all over her face from the wind.
Before I knew what was happening, my arm was holding out my umbrella to the woman. “Here take this.’’ It was so spontaneous but it felt like the right thing to do.
“Oh-oh ok,” she hesitantly grabbed the umbrella like it was a prank, or I wasn't being serious. “Thank you.”
“Really, it’s nothing.” I shrugged and kept walking.
As the rain poured down on my hair and coat, soaking everything wet, I felt like I was having the best day of my life. I couldn't wipe the huge smile off my face as, for the first time, I felt like I really truly helped someone.