Friday, October 2, 2015

Being Invisible is the Worst

"I am late to court," man next to me said.

I got up to leave because I didn't have enough cash to pay for my fingerprints.

"What are you here for?" the man asked me as I walked toward the elevator. "You shouldn't need cash to get fingerprints."

"Substitute teaching."

"Oh....yeah. You do need cash if you're here for THAT."

Meanwhile, I heard another guy exclaim "Why do all these ----- (insert numerous swear words) get to go ahead of us?"

"See you later," I said to the man who was asking me about the fingerprints.

"Good luck."

I walked back outside and was about to cross the street to the CVS when I saw Ed the Hotdogger's stand again. He had given me a hot dog and two waters earlier, and a free bag of chips. So I went back to talk to him for a minute.

I passed a homeless man on the corner, sitting with his dog, who knew me by now, too, because this was the second or third time I'd walked by him as well. He smiled at me, but we didn't exchange words this time. He probably could sense I was in a hurry. I was. My meter was running out and I still had to get fingerprints.

I had given the man one of the bottles of water the first time I passed by. It was so hot out and he had asked me if I could spare anything. I pass by so many people everyday, and I KNOW, I KNOW, you can't help everyone, but something about this man was different.

Maybe it was the fact that I was about to walk by him THREE MORE TIMES.

What would it have been like if I walked right by him the first time?

I walked by Ed again, and he asked me if I needed anything.

Eight dollars?

I was kidding, but Ed said it would be no problem to exchange money and I could get some cash from him. He even gave me a free lemonade.  With his help, I got back up to the station quickly and would (hopefully) not get a ticket on my parked car.

I don't understand grace sometimes. I don't know why God would show me His love through other people.

This story, these coffees, they teach me about grace.

I walked by the homeless man again (third time? I lost track) on my way back, eight dollars in hand.

"What's your dog's name?"

"Mary Jane."

I smiled. All I could think to ask was, "how is Mary Jane doing??"

"She's doing good," he said, and smiled.

"Good.." I walked on, ready to go through security AGAIN.

Most of the time, I admit that I don't know what to do with people living on the street. In all my coffees and all my endeavors to love people, I am still a cautious person. I've had people take advantage of my 'niceness,' and I know sometimes friendliness gets misinterpreted.

On the other extreme, it's easy to become callous. It's easy to forget that there are times you bump into people again and again (literally) and if you don't see people, what a loss. What a terrible loss.

I say this to myself because it doesn't come as naturally as it seems. This is a girl who is still afraid in big cities sometimes, who doesn't like abrupt interactions with strangers, who has no words most of the time when greeted by people on the street.

There are a million stories and we all have them. I'm not a martyr for giving a man water. I don't know if Mary Jane's owner would want to be in my book or not (I know Ed the Hotdogger would, he was excited). But I think he has a story, too. I may not learn it. I may not publish it. I don't even know his name. His dog is now more famous than him. Tongue tied, that's all I could think to ask. But that's okay. At least he is not invisible. That's all any of us can ask for. Being invisible is the worst.

*stay tuned for more on Ed the Hotdogger

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