Lunch with Joyce | Teen Ink

Lunch with Joyce MAG

January 23, 2009
By tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments

Today I was at the mall waiting for friends, when a lady wearing a knit hat and a sweater came up to me and, shivering, said, “I’m homeless. Would you mind buying me some food?”

In that split second, everything I’d learned since kindergarten flashed through my mind. Don’t talk to strangers … Be a good citizen … People will take ­advantage of you … Treat others as you wish to be treated … The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return … I guess love won the debate. “Sure,” I said. “What would you like?”

She thought and then said, “I’d like to get Chinese food.” We headed upstairs. On the way she told me about when she was a teenager. She remembers taking pictures for the yearbook with her best friend. She was in the band and played basketball. She got good grades and was a good student.

She ordered soup, an egg roll, white rice, and pepper chicken. I would normally think that was a lot, but she had probably barely eaten in the last few days. I got my usual – lo mein and General Tso’s chicken.

As we ate, we got to know each other. She asked if I played any instruments. I replied that I played the violin, cello, and guitar. She told me she played the flute, piano, guitar, and violin. In the middle of our meal, I realized something. And she thought of it at exactly the same time.

“So, what’s your name?” she asked.

“I’m Claire,” I said, startled at our exact same thought. “What’s yours?”

“Joyce,” she said with a smile.

We continued talking, and she asked my favorite subjects in school and if I wanted to go to college. “Hopefully,” I replied. “I’m interested in nursing.”

“I went to college for nursing,” she said.

I was taken aback. How could we have so much in common? Was she pretending so I’d feel sympathy for her? But her eyes were genuine as she said this.

Meanwhile I was eating my lo mein, picking around the cabbage and the other vegetables. Joyce said, “If you don’t like it you can take it back.” I told her that I liked it, but was not fond of the vegetables. She broke into a big grin. “You don’t like vegetables, huh? Neither did I. But now I do.” I immediately felt guilty. How could I be picking at my food across from someone who barely gets to eat at all?

I tried my best to finish, but she seemed to sense my guilt and said, “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want it.” How could she know what I was feeling? I told her the dish was my favorite, but I just eat slowly.

She replied, “I used to like lo mein, but pepper chicken was my dad’s favorite, so I get that now.” Noticing that she used the word “was,” I assumed her dad had passed away. I found it sweet that she gave up her favorite in order to honor her dad.

She asked why I was at the mall.

“I’m waiting for friends. We’re going to see ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’” I replied, stumbling over the words a bit.

“‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’” she echoed in awe. “What’s that about?” I realized that she didn’t see commercials for movies.

I explained the basic plot and she chuckled. “A man who is born 80 years old and ages backwards! That sounds interesting.”

She got up to get a to-go box. “Would you like one?” she asked, but I refused. I realized that this food would probably last her for a few days, and I was glad she had ordered a lot.

“Would you like these?” I asked, gesturing at the food I had left untouched. “Oh, no, thank you,” she said. “This is enough.” I got up to throw my tray away, feeling guilty about wasting so much.

“I need to meet my friends now,” I explained. “It was so nice to meet you, Joyce.”

“You too, Claire,” she replied with a smile. “Thank you.”

I headed to the theater, and she went back downstairs. It sounds like a perfect coincidence, but I can’t help but think that some force compelled us to meet. I kept puzzling, Why is Joyce homeless? It seems so unfair. She shouldn’t need people to buy her dinner. She was a nurse. She got good grades. She took pictures for her yearbook. She was the person I hope to be in the future. What went wrong? How could such a good life be rewarded with horrible luck?

I feel lucky to have run into Joyce. She changed my outlook. She is still a wonderful person, despite what the world has done to her. I wish her the best, and can only hope that the force that brought us together will help her find what she deserves in life.

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This article has 45 comments.

on Aug. 9 2010 at 10:58 am
Caitlyn_ilovesoftball GOLD, Douds, Iowa
15 articles 9 photos 105 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hello Cat-i-lynn Mill-ard-o," -friends
"Stop saying that!! My name ain't Cat-i-lynn Mill-ard-o!!" -Me
"Okay, fine, Hello Cat."-friends
"You a turtle on steroids!"-friends
"Hahaha, I know" -ME

This was AMAZING!!!

I gave 5 stars after just readig the top half, i know i shouldn't but i just loved it that much, but dang, i wish i knew what happen to joyce.  I hope she will be alright!!

****GREAT JOB!!!!

on Aug. 9 2010 at 10:05 am
strawberry_autumn BRONZE, Keller, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Am I or the others crazy?"

-Albert Einstein

Lovely piece, very heartfelt and full of emotion, and made me want to know and do more.  Any writer who can elicit an emotional response, a desire to learn more, or the inspiration to help is a successful writer.  Despite the naysayers and their ignorance of how things are changed when submitted for publication, you should be proud of your work.  You have done well. :)

on Aug. 3 2010 at 7:39 pm
writingchick GOLD, Huntington, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 127 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Faith is taking another step without seeing the entire staircase."

This was a sweet fun and very interesting story. I like it :)

on Jul. 30 2010 at 6:51 pm
brysmarie12 PLATINUM, Neoga, Illinois
22 articles 1 photo 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am the author of my own life... unfortunately I'm writing in pen and can't erase my mistakes.

Wow! This is really touching, and I will be wondering for several days what in the world happened to Joyce :) I do believe in fate, and think its very cool that you recognized it as well!

on May. 29 2010 at 3:41 pm
Patience97 PLATINUM, New Tripoli, Pennsylvania
27 articles 8 photos 135 comments

Favorite Quote:
"People believe that if we really want to eliminate something, focus on that. How much sense does it make for us to give the particular problem all of the energy, as opposed to focusing on trust, love, living in abundance, education, or peace? -Un.

You had me wondering what happen to Joyce the entire time. I am still wondering...

But wow... It does seem so odd that someone who had good grades and went to medical school would end up like this.

You are so nice and sweet and kind to take this lady under your wing and pay for a meal for her. Just knowing that their are people out there willing to do this is very reassuring...

Good job with your article... Well done.

"People will never remember exactly what you said, but people will remember how you made them feel."

on Apr. 24 2010 at 8:19 pm
SarClark BRONZE, NC, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 534 comments
Amazing job, extremely touching

tatinia said...
on Mar. 1 2010 at 2:53 pm
tatinia, Chicago, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
this story was very instersting i really liked it

on Feb. 5 2010 at 11:39 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
what do you mean?

kixen said...
on Feb. 5 2010 at 9:22 am
baby words

bobby said...
on Feb. 5 2010 at 9:08 am
well am glad they did! it was good.

on Feb. 4 2010 at 9:13 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
thanks! haha i'm not much of a writer, i just submitted this because my friend told me to.

rough said...
on Feb. 4 2010 at 9:10 pm
True True, good luck.

on Feb. 4 2010 at 9:08 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
haha they kind of screwed up some of the meaning when they edited it, and took out a lot of the personal writing style that I have. I think it would have done better if they didn't dumb it down to a 1st grade reading level haha

tjueqtjke said...
on Feb. 4 2010 at 8:38 pm
It wasss ok

on Feb. 4 2010 at 1:48 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
For the people who are rating this article, it would be great if you could accompany your rating with a comment to show why you rated it that way. I've been getting a few low ratings lately, which is fine with me, but I'd like to see why people rate the article as such.

on Nov. 8 2009 at 1:49 pm
CaseyLeigh PLATINUM, Moraga, California
31 articles 6 photos 137 comments

Favorite Quote:
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to.

An amazing, inspiring article.

on Jun. 1 2009 at 7:37 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
Thank you so much for all your positive comments.

It really happened, and I was just writing what I experienced.

And I'm sure something amazing will happen to you at one point or another ;)

Samantha said...
on Jun. 1 2009 at 12:18 am
Thats a really awesome piece of writing! I love it!

on May. 31 2009 at 11:59 pm
Inkspired PLATINUM, Whitby, Other
26 articles 0 photos 493 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If one will scoff at the study of language, how, save in terms of language, will one scoff?" - Mario Pei
"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die." Isaac Asimov

OMG!! This really happened? I love this piece, it's so heartfelt and true, there's so many stupid things in this world I just want to scream because I feel so helpless! Great job!

on May. 31 2009 at 3:15 pm
totalbookworm96 BRONZE, Granger, Indiana
1 article 0 photos 22 comments
that was really good! I liked it a lot