Well, over dinner last night at Ace Restaurant in Denver (Highly Recommend.), my friend Suh-Mii informed me that my blog provided great encouragement for her while she was deployed to Kuwait. So, Suh-Mii, I shall blog more. I needed that push – thank you! (Happy birthday, by the way!)
After the delicious Asian fusion dinner and grande conversation at Ace (The place has a room full of ping pong tables and fabulous decor. I wish I’d taken pictures.), we were strolling down the street in the chilly night air, chatting about the night’s activities when a homeless man approached our large group of young women. He had very few teeth, was wearing a stocking cap, worn tennis shoes, and a coat with the name “David” on it. He asked if any of us had a dollar so that he could buy some doughnuts at the 7-Eleven across the street.
I said, “I don’t have an actual dollar, but I’d be happy to go with you and buy the doughnuts.” I rarely have cash, I was with a lot of people, and honestly felt safe in this situation. The sweet man told me he actually wanted 4 suckers instead of the doughnuts. He said, “It’s hard finding someone that will buy a guy suckers, but I just have a sweet tooth.” (Says the man with two teeth.) We talked about how people probably think he is going to buy alcohol or drugs – he informed me he didn’t do any of that, just liked his sweets.
We shuffled into 7-Eleven, picked out a Strawberry Milk and 4 Tootsie Roll pops. I asked him if he wanted some actual food with sustenance. Nope. I paid the $3.22, introduced myself, and shook the hand of this sweet man, Larry. His hands were freezing and cracked. I asked him if there was anything else he needed and he just said, “I appreciate you.” And he shuffled away.
We walked the same direction, on different sides of the street, but I kept checking on him and then he was gone. Very nice to meet you Larry!
I think all too often, we’re too fearful or intimidated to reach out to those that are in different circumstances than we are. I know I am. I’m learning about stereotype threats in my counseling class right now – it’s fascinating to think how openminded and friendly little kids are because they haven’t learned to fear things or people yet. They don’t know what stereotypes are and certainly aren’t threatened by them until their societal norms teach them otherwise.
In talking with my friends when we joined back up outside the 7-Eleven, it was amazing to think how quickly some folks get to the point where Larry was. You never know where else they’ve been or how much they’ll appreciate something as simple as a Strawberry Milk.
Who will you reach out to next?