Monday, September 21, 2009

Spare Change and a Big Lesson

My favorite way to spend time is outside a coffee shop, with a delicious cappuccino, a good book, and some sunshine. This is my ideal me time, and the less interruptions, the better. In fact, I’m known to even put my Blackberry away, with the ringer turned off no less. Yesterday morning was the perfect sunny day in San Diego and I had settled down with my book in front of the most perfect coffee shop. (well, the closest I could find outside of Italy at least.) I was happy. I was content. I was looking forward to losing myself in the pages of the one John Grisham thriller I have somehow seemed to miss in my 3458 trips to the airport bookstore. Which is why I was probably less thrilled than normal when a man perched himself on a chair the next table over and proceeded to interrupt my perfect morning.

He started off by telling me how beautiful I was and I graciously thanked him and then quickly diverted my eyes back to my book. But I knew he wasn’t done and in my head I was expecting the next question that followed.

“Could you spare some money so that I could get something to eat?

He was homeless. San Diego has an extremely large population of homeless and any time you are in the downtown vicinity you will surely be asked on numerous occasions for any change you can spare. I have no set rule on whether or not I fork something over…sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. But this was my time, and the last thing I wanted to be was bothered. So I smiled politely and said I didn’t have any cash, just credit cards on me.

“Do you think you could buy me some food with your credit card?

I smiled politely again. “Sorry…”. And again I tried to look back down at my book. I didn’t bother to finish the sentence. Obviously I could buy food with my credit card, I just wasn’t going to. I had barely been sitting there for 10 minutes. My coffee was still hot, I was just getting into my book, and my relaxing morning was not going to be interrupted. Truth be told, I had cash. But I use this line the same way I eagerly throw out that I have a boyfriend. It’s not quite the truth, it just makes the interaction a little less painful for both of us.

He looked me in the eye and sighed, thanked me, and then got up and walked away. A few minutes passed and my eyes started to well up. He wanted food for goodness sakes. Lord knows I don’t have much, but I am beyond capable of buying somebody lunch. But I continued to sit there, tried to loose myself in the pages of my legal thriller, and failed miserably. After about 15 minutes had passed, I gathered up my stuff and set out in the direction I thought he had gone.

I found him about 4 blocks away, still unsuccessful in finding himself lunch to eat. I tapped him on the shoulder and said hello, and from his reaction I’m not even sure he remembered he had just talked to me or just thought it was cool someone was making conversation. He didn’t bring up money at all, he just started chatting about random stuff… the fact that he was from Detroit (had I ever been there and what did I think of it), his father and brothers who have a lot of money (did I have siblings), that he can ride the bus all over town for free (I saw the card)…just on and on. After about 10 minutes I said I had to get going and asked if he was still wanted something to eat.

Yea, I am hungry.

I quickly handed over the cash I did have so that he could buy what he wanted, and wished him a good day. Before I left though, he wanted to give me something in return. It was a purple and yellow key holder you wear around your neck from the local bail bondsman and while I tried to say it was ok and I didn’t need anything, he wouldn’t take it back. He assured me he could get more. I hurried away before the tears started overflowing.

I am blessed. Blessed to have a roof over my head, food always in my cupboard, and friends and family who care enough to ensure that I don’t ever have to beg someone for a meal. Not everyone does. People bless me all the time for no other reason than it was put on their heart to do so. I am thankful beyond belief and constantly feel like my thank you’s don’t do much in the way of showing my gratitude. But I was reminded that what is also important is to make sure you bless others. And while I certainly can’t empty my wallet every time a homeless person in San Diego asks for money, I believe this particular man was there to give me something. What I received from our interaction will last far beyond that afternoon. Even the tacky keychain, that is capable of holding the key to my apartment, my car key, and the storage area with all my extra stuff, is a reminder that I am blessed to have keys of things that belong to me. That is what's important.

(I am not necessarily proud in recounting how I reacted to this man at first and how I treated him, but I thought the lesson it showed me was important and so I shared anyway.)

20 comments:

Brianna said...

pretty long post...sorry about that. hopefully you make it to the end! :)

Diandra Ann said...

You made me cry. And you should be proud of how you responded when God worked on your heart. Everyone makes mistakes... it's how you handle the prompting of the Holy Spirit after those mistakes that determines your character. You have a wonderful heart :) Have a great day! And thanks for the reminder of how blessed I am! I needed that today.

Anonymous said...

Brianna...I have had a couple of experiences like this here in Eugene. It is hard to decide to whom to give money and to whom not...but I always ask the Lord to let me know...and He does. He was guiding your spirit too. God gave you the blessing of helping the gentleman, and it is up to him what to do with that blessing. I often recall the scripture that says 'we have often entertained angels without knowing it' (not sure of the exact quote or where it is found). I once passed up a hitchhiker and then felt this incredible heaviness in my heart and went to the next exit to get off and go back and pick him up (I had a truck so I could have had him get in the back) and he was gone. I missed that blessing, and have always regretted it. God bless...jo carpenter

Anonymous said...

Nice add......I have done things like that, and have also said "no" to people. But i do understand how it makes you feel afterward. I just sent a "care package" to the troops fighting for us overseas, i am still late on my morgage, but still felt to brighten up there day, and put off my payment. I put things in perspective.....brighten up their day?....or pay my morgage on time?.. I chose them. My hats off to you.

Bianca said...

I love you. I'm proud of you.

"Raise your hand if you're blessed," {we raise our hands}. "Then WHY are you complaining?"

jujusa said...

You have reacts of the best way sincerely...
It's not always evident with the homeless, but as you said it several times " you have smiled politely "

Jon Lustig said...

So nice. Don't worry about how long it was, with all the reading I'll be doing today there's no way I'll spend a better 2 minutes.
Even though you didn't help him the first time, you did something most people wouldn't. When you decided you had made a mistake, you didn't say 'I'll do better the next time,' you went out of your way to try to fix it. That's what made it such a nice story. You should be proud. What's in your heart, doing something small when you don't have to, those are the things which make you special.
Oh, and the next time you're in BN, try something from Paula Woods or David Ellis.

jujusa said...

I just come to see your first comment, it's true it's a long post more long for me to understand because my native language is French! Lol but it's a pretty post!!! that's rite ;-)

Anonymous said...

Amen!!

j buck said...

While your in the giving mood and wanting to make god happy.......can I have $10,000?

Deaulivery said...

It was probably the biggest leap of your career! God loves you and so do we!

BreezieGirl said...

Thank you so much for sharing.

Brianna said...

thanks everybody...for sharing as well and for appreciating my story. I'm glad it touched you as well.

Anonymous said...

and your "Big Lesson" is what? u being a self obsessed arrogant ass!

no no, thank u!

Nikkie T said...

BriBri, I love that. Not only would a lot of people just assume the moment had passed when he walked away the first time, I'm sure many wouldn't have walked more than a block or 2 in any direction to find him.

Good job friend!

Patty Mooney said...

Brianna, It's better not to give the homeless any money, because it enables them to buy drugs and alcohol. What is better is to buy them a meal, give them a coupon for food at a local restaurant, or do what one of my friends now does: carry some nutritional PowerBars or Cliff Bars in your glove compartment and give those out to the homeless. You may be interested (and shocked, like I was) to learn that nearly half the homeless are veterans; many are combat vets who suffer with PTSD. Homelessness is probably not going to go away anytime soon, but it is good that you found that compassion in your heart to see yourself in his eyes.

Anonymous said...

shoes-we wear them we run in them and we jump in them--whats most importent is for us to walk in them and think of the footsteps before ours and the impression we leave behind and moreover what the ground underneath must feel like for someone else--all of our feet are on the same ground some of us have a higher reach to the the stars then others--you reached out and lifted someone up--hope is a beautiful thing. joe p vegas/dc

Marcus said...

Great blog Bri. Patty, I know you're just trying to help, but I'm sure Brianna, just like everyone else, knows the possibility of a homeless person taking your spare change to buy drugs. But I think in this case the man demonstrated a sincere desire to buy food, and Brianna handled the situation perfectly.

♥Mommy C♥ said...

wow ...Brianna I am proud of you!

Toni said...

this was a great blog. i used to read your blog a lot about a year ago and for some reason stopped. this morning i was going through my favorite links on my computer and came across "Brianna Glenn Blog." I've been reading your blogs for about an hour, though i should be prepearing for work. Anyhoo, just reading your blogs have put an extra pep in my step and motivated me to, though i'm sure you don't care to hear this, be okay with meing single. i'm 27 years old and have NEVER been single. until now. i won't go in to detail about all i've learned from your blogs this morning, just know that you've inspired a complete stranger. keep up the great work! enjoy your hiatus.