In The Blink of An Eye

Not long ago, my wife and I went to Target to pick up a few things; amongst our list were a few food items: milk, ice cream, snacks, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

I didn’t think too much about it, why should I? I live a pretty good life compared to other people around the world: I eat three meals a day, I have a roof over my head, I have a warm bed that I sleep in, I go to Starbucks multiple times a week, you get the idea.

As we left the store there was an older gentleman sitting in a walker relying on the kindness of strangers to help get through another day and night. He was an older man who probably hadn’t had a shower in days. He looked like he was in his 60s and was going through something most of us would never wish to go through. He wasn’t bugging anyone, he wasn’t asking anyone for anything. He was simply sitting in his walker with as much dignity as he could. Imagine having to swallow your pride and depend on the kindness of others – could you do it day after day? I’m not sure I could. I’ve never been in such a situation and I’m not sure I could imagine having to live like that.

As I walked by, I pulled out a few dollars and gave them to him. He didn’t have to say anything to me, his eyes said it all. Still, he whispered, “Thank you sir, God bless you.” My wife asked him if he would like an ice cream bar, “Oh my, I haven’t had an ice cream in so long, thank you.” What can you say to such a thing? His words were so sincere and heartfelt that all I could do was nod my head and say, “You’re welcome, take care of yourself.”

I hate to see things like this. It angers me that a man in his 60s has to be out on the streets in the “greatest nation on earth.” Why does this man have to be out on the streets? Shouldn’t he be sitting on the porch of a house telling stories that he’s collected over 60 years? The fact that this happens is so wrong, and yet it does.

As I get older, my empathy for other people’s suffering deepens and my disdain for self-centered judgmental bullshit grows even stronger. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what I think about someone or their situation – it doesn’t matter a damn thing. People who are hungry and cold don’t care about your politics and what you think about them. They’re human beings who are in a situation that is wearing on them. It’s beating them down little by little. It doesn’t matter to me how or why they’re in this situation – they’re hungry and if I can help them, I will.

I hope that you’ll remember during the coming holiday season, when you encounter some of these unfortunate souls, that they’re simply human beings hoping to get some food in their stomachs for the night or a warm coat or blanket to cover themselves with. Remember that the person slumped on the sidewalk or sitting in the walker could be you or someone you love in the blink of an eye.

4 Responses

  1. I agree with you Sal…I have always given when I can..might be money, food, clothes.whatever.
    My parents taught me from the age of reasoning that we must always give to the poor; even though we weren’t that much better off, we still had the comforts that we take for granted.
    Every time I see someone in that situation, I always think, what if that was me 20 years from now; what if that young girl hanging around the corner, could be my daughter, what if, what if?
    I never judge when someone begs or asks for money; it’s not my business. We forget, that we really don’t know their story and we have to learn how to be more compassionate and less judgmental. What bothers me though, is that n o one in this country should be in that dire of a situation. Yes, lots of the drug addicts and “winos” made that choice, so be it. But what about the older people whose Social Security check will not cover all of their expenses.Or the Vet who didn’t stand a chance when he came back from Nam. Or the families that lost everything when the market crashed. Lost their home, their jobs and more importantly, lost their dignity. And we continue to ignore them when we see them on the corners, at the parks
    or hanging out at the parking lots. Poverty and social injustices have been part of humanity since the beginning of time. Every religion in the world preaches about charity, and yet, it’s at the bottom of our priorities. I could go on and on, probably write a book about it, and this is another reason, that I don’t relate to rich, non talented, self centered with huge mega egos, such as Paris Hilton, let’s say. How does she justify spending thousands of dollars on a dog? How is that possible? But , I always remember what the bible has to say…it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person, to get to heaven. God bless us all, Sal. That’s all I have to say anymore; because Judgement Day comes for everyone.

    1. Salvador,

      This is one your best blogs yet. So real. Sobering. Yes, in the blink of an eye, this can be you, me, or someone close to us. We are not only experiencing a water drought. Empathy is scarce. Not enough people reaching out to the have-nots. The economic gap is greater than before. In schools, you see the achievement gap. You see it everywhere. This helps reinforce my goals to continue educating others about the importance about caring for others. What comes around goes around in a blink of an eye 😉


  2. Very felt felt and very very authentic and true. We need to remember that we have no idea of the road people have traveled. Thank you for a sobering and thought provoking post.

  3. Salvador, si siento lo que dices, en esta vida hay cosas que pasan y hay veces te encuentras solo y sin nadie que te ayude, yo por lo personal siempre me a gustado ayudar cuando tengo, aunque sea un centavo.En el tiempo que vivi en San Francisco me di cuenta de lo malo y mas que todo de lo bueno que la gente es,de niño mis padres siempre me enseñaron a hacer bien sin mirar a quien, Y siempre me enfuresco cuando gente no tiene compasion o al menos comprender.Si te acuerdas te mencione que yo he pasado por infortunios donde me he tragado mi orgullo, tambien durante estos tiempos descubri lo tan grandioso que es el espiritu humano, ya que cuando necesite de casa y comida hubo gente muy buena en Oakland y en Stockton que me brindaron su mano y apoyo durante esos dias muy dificiles, y no dia pasa sin que yo aunque ahora muy distante de agradeceles de mucho corazon por lo que hicieron por mi.Al final lo que me gustaría es que antes de que alguien abra la boca y ofenda alguien que esta pasando por una mala racha, que tome tiempo para pensar en lo bueno que su vida es y en lo que puede hacer para ayudar en vez de ser parte del problema..

    Salvador, I understand what you’re saying. In life, things happen and sometimes you find yourself alone and without anyone’s support. Personally, I’ve always liked to help out when I can – even if it’s only with a few cents. During the time that I lived in San Francisco, I discovered how bad and how good people can be. When I was very young, my parents taught me to do good things without expecting anything in return. It always angers me when I see people who have no compassion or understanding for those less fortunate. If you recall, I’ve told you about some of the rough times that I’ve been through where I’ve had to swallow my pride. It was during those times that I discovered how magnificent the human spirit is. When I needed a roof over my head and food in my stomach, I found good people in Oakland and Stockton who offered me their support during those very trying times. Not a day goes by, despite my distance, that I don’t whole heartedly gives thanks for what those people did for me. What I’d like to see is for people to stop and think before they judge and offend those who are going through a hard time; they should think about how fortunate they are to have the life that they have and try be a solution rather than part of the problem.

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