The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Please give your leftovers away

Living and working in the inner city of Seattle for the past seven years means I have been sharing the streets with some of the richest people in the city and some of the poorest. It can be uncomfortable to share with the poorest people. Mainly because I've been haggled, called at and harassed which, generally speaking, has put a sour taste in my mouth towards many of the people living on the streets. But I also have a giant soft spot. My own experience with addiction leaves me feeling compassionate towards those whose bodies are slaves to addiction themselves. My own experience also hardens my heart too because if I can change my behavior I wonder why can't they.

Needless to say, over the years I've realized that while I may not ever feel inclined to give money to feed their addiction, I do understand that a hungry person is a hungry person no matter what their circumstances. I've been blessed enough in my present life to not know what it feels like to be hungry. To not worry about where my next meal will come from and to be able to buy virtually whatever food I may be craving. Hunger is a basic human need.

The past seven years have began to shape how I feel that I can confidently and comfortably, without really doing anything at all, give food to homeless people. I can remember a number of years ago walking out of a Red Robin on the waterfront and there was a man begging right outside of another popular restaurant. I was carrying my leftovers (I hate wasting food) and thought this man in rags on a cold evening would want them. I was wrong. He snarled at me for offering. Being the sensitive, introvert that I am, I did not make that same mistake ever again.

Some time later, maybe a year or so, I again was leaving a restaurant down the street from my home and I was passing by one of the regular street people I had seen almost daily for the past four years. He walked straight up to me and asked if he could have my leftovers. I promptly handed them off with a shy smile and went on my way. I can't describe the feeling. Sometimes in life we wonder what our purpose is and why we're here or what we're doing. So in that moment, my purpose in life was to be standing on that street corner at the exact time that hungry man came walking by. It's not about me. It's about knowing that God (or whatever you believe in) had a plan for that moment and I didn't walk away from it. I could have easily said no as I have said in the past but why?

This is the question that has led me to this passionate belief that if you have leftovers at a restaurant, you should always take them and keep your eye out for someone who may be hungry. Maybe you have more confidence than me and you aren't afraid of someone angrily saying no to you or maybe you're more like me and you want to know for sure someone is hungry. Look out for people digging in the trash or even just make eye contact with homeless people you walk by as a way to sort of say hi and then they might ask. Or once, I just left it in an area I thought someone might find it because there wasn't an easy pass off.

If you live in a suburb where there really aren't many homeless or hungry people around you, just remember if you go into the city to eat, there are literally hundreds of hungry people on the streets and this is your opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to make a positive difference in somebody else's life. I always hear this saying 'we are blessed to be a blessing' and it reminds to give back even in the smallest of ways.

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