We all know that when there is a cosmic lesson for us to learn it raises its head in many different ways and doesn't let up until we have sufficiently dealt with it. Well I had "Cosmic Lesson Class" yesterday when I was out for a walk. I stopped into a t-shirt shop to buy a couple of t-shirts for Alex and Satchel: The Men of Adventure. Zak and Ike are in the club too (Sorry, Temple and Fiona are in The Pretty Dolly Club with Camille. Call it sexist but that's just how it unfolded) but Zak is leaving for months of travel and Ike is here so it I just had shirts made for Alex and Satchel.
While the shirts were being printed I was sitting on a park bench outside the storefront (Andersonville is very good about beautiful places to sit near flowers and the hub of things.) I was just waiting, kind of day dreaming, when I see him turn the corner toward me. He's jingling two quarters and a penny in his hand and showing it to me. He asks, "Mam, I need a dollar and I have 51 cents, do you have any change you can spare?" I looked at him and said, "Nope." And looked away. He kept asking, repeating the same sentence over and over and I clung fast to my, "No." My jaw was set, my stomach a bit queasy, and my head asking me why I was being such a bitch. And then he asked, "Why? Why? Why? Is it because I am black?" Well because that reason never crossed my mind, because maybe I would have thought it's because you have food all over your face before I would have thought of his ethnicity, that question shook me into action. I said, calmly, looking up from my place on this bench right into his eyes, "No. it's because you were rude to me." He said, "Oh. OK. (pause) I was?" I told him what had taken place previously. He asked me one more question, "Oh please, in the name of Jesus?" Double hook (with a twist). What would Jesus, or Buddha, or Mother Theresa have done?
And a warm and pleasant conversation ensued. He said I'm truly sorry. I'm homeless. I get hungry and I get frustrated. I told him I was sorry for that. But we all get frustrated in life for different reasons yet that doesn't give us the rite to be rude to people and hurt them too. He really looked at me and repeated how sorry he was. I said, "Thank you. I accept your apology." Where I expected him to begin asking me for money again, he just walked on. I felt so peaceful. It poured over me like magic. Another human being and I had found a place of true understanding.
Well, you know I reached in my wallet and dug out a dollar bill and called him back. I said here ya go, now go get yourself something; just remember everyone likes kindness. He really looked surprised and thus, unassuming and sincere in his apology. Like he really cared that he had hurt my feelings and didn't expect any money from me.
He walked back, took the dollar as a huge grin spread over his food covered face, red, dried, crusty something all through his unshaven whiskers. He said, with a twinkle and the enthusiasm of a child,
"Now I'm gonna go get me another piece of pizza!"
And there was a new bounce in his step as he walked away. A bounce that I assumed was about something more than a piece of pizza for him too.
Next time, I want to ask his name.