After picking up the kids from school one day last week, we headed to get smoothies.
Laughing and exchanging stories, our car pulled up to a red light.
A girl who looked to be in high school was standing on the corner with a sign that said, "Hungry."
My 9-year old son was visibly shaken.
We sat next to her completely silent until the light turned green.
I had no cash...not even a granola bar or a fruit snack to offer.
Feeling his pain, I asked him how seeing her made him feel..."really, really sad...where's she gonna go tonight?" I just looked at him.
This morning at the grocery store, I watched a woman throw receipts and gum wrappers from her purse onto the ground. I picked them up and put them in the trash.
At the check out lane, the man in front of me was frenetic. In a hurry, he was irritated that the cashier wasn't keying in the produce numbers fast enough and that the baby to our left was crying. He hemmed and hawed and told her to just throw it all in a bag. "I've gotta get to work."
At the post office, a couple was in line behind me and the wife was furious. "You said you were gonna do this last week. Now, it's gonna be late. You call and tell them." He never stopped looking at his shoes and she kept at it for what felt like forever. As I was leaving, I smiled at him, as if to say, hey, the sun's shining. It's gonna be okay.
In the mix of the chaos, the busyness, the pace of our lives, we've forgotten...what we mean to each other...which is everything.
There are a myriad of reasons for not giving someone on the street corner your loose change. I know, I've heard them all. But I'm certain that somewhere, at sometime, someone gave something to you that they didn't have to, that maybe you were entirely undeserving of...just because. And that act of generosity, of kindness, of good faith made a difference.
Likewise, you're just an asshole if you treat the cashier at any retail joint poorly. You have no idea what it took to get them out their own door to most likely a shitty paying job that has to serve ass hats like you with a smile on their face. And really, at some point in your life, you have to serve another, so why not be nice while you're being served.
As we all walk around trying to figure out why we're here, my hope is that sooner, rather than later, we realize that it's not to make money. It's not to have a specific title on a business card. It's not to amass things. It's not to thwart power.
The only reason that we're truly here is to love one another. That's it. Not perfectly, not flawlessly, not always unconditionally...but with a spirit that says, you are just as valuable as I am.
And so, even though it was hard, I'm glad that my son was visibly shaken by the young homeless girl. Even if she has a phenomenal scam business, it's clear that she's not in a good spot, physically and emotionally. I hope my son never becomes immune to seeing poverty and what it looks like to be void of connection, love and hope.
At the end of the day, we've got to remember that we belong to each other.