Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A REAL CHANGE of Perspective

Consider picking up one of these papers
next time you see a vendor.  Well worth the $2

Tonight was another night where we had dinner out with the kids.  

Truth be told though we would have just as well eaten back at home, but we had eye appointments for both kids this evening (You've seen their glasses), and didn't get finished until nearly 6:00PM. 

Immediate nutrients were a requisite, lest we all melt down.

So pizza was on the menu, at a joint on Seattle's Capitol Hill, which was not far from the eye doctor's office.  As usual we ended up ordering too much pie.  The kids are actually smaller than they seem when they are hungry.  I know, go figure.

Anyway, after the meal we eventually packed up the kiddos along with our leftovers, and headed down the sidewalk on our way back to the cars.  We were walking hand in hand - as it was dark and it's just nice to hold the hand of someone you love.  

As we were walking along paying most of our attention to those of us aged in single digits, I glanced up to see a man approach.  He wasn't dressed well, and it was immediately obvious to me that he was not in the best of places.  He asked for some cash.  Unfortunately I don't usually carry cash so while still passing by I told him that I was sorry, but couldn't help.

After a few steps though, Mrs. LIAYF looked over at me and told me to "give him the pizza". Of course, this immediately seemed pretty obvious to me as well.  He clearly needed it more than we did. So I back tracked to man, who was walking the other way and offered him the extra pie.  But he just kept on walking.   Thinking he didn't hear me as I usually talk softly, I approached closer and offered again a bit louder.

That is when he turned towards me an very angrily yelled "NO!!" right in my face.  Then mumbled some incomprehensible words as he walked off.

I was startled a bit by that, but accepted his decision and rejoined my family.  It was then that Lukas, who looked a bit shocked himself told us "I'm scared."  

"There's nothing to be scared of Bud" I told him, "Your Mom and I are right here with you."  We resumed our walk, and Mrs. LIAYF and I began to explain to our son about people who are struggling and whose brains don't always work in ways that others would expect them to, but that doesn't  mean that we shouldn't still try to help these folks out when we have an opportunity.  That there are a lot of folks looking for a bit of help, which might just make a huge difference for them.

Ironically, about the time we were walking and explaining this to him, we were also passing another man, selling papers.  I immediately recognized this as a REAL CHANGE vendor. The vendors are homeless, and sell the papers to earn much needed money.  Money they use to survive. Mrs. LIAYF and I usually include them in our year end giving.

So, I stopped our family for a second time and although I still didn't have any cash on me, used the opportunity to approach this man and again offer our leftover food.

"Absolutely!" he beamed, flashing a huge smile - obviously thrilled at the prospect of a hot meal on a cold evening.  "Thank you so much.  And please take a paper.  Please." he extended one to me, which I gladly accepted and returned the gratitude. 

Literally a few moments had passed since the first encounter, and here we were able to see such a different reaction to our offer.

It was powerful. 

With that, we once again we resumed our walk to our car.  And were able to use this new encounter to greatly enhance the learning experience the kids were getting.  We explained to our little ones that as they could see, you can't make assumptions about people based on what you see on the outside.  

Sure there are going to be times where people act badly, but it's usually for an understandable, if unfortunate, reason.  But that more often you will see how people are good and appreciate any amount of genuine help we can give, even when they are struggling the most.

That was a lesson worth so much more than a few slices of leftover pizza.


Carl said...

Right on! It can be hard to keep a positive attitude when your best efforts are rebuffed like that first experience. Glad your kids could witness such a positive event after such a negative and somewhat scary one moments before.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Thanks Carl. It was after dinner, so we didn't have the opportunity to invite someone to dine with us like you did (not sure we are there yet) but it was a good way for them to gain perspective.

Post Post Modern Dad said...

There are times when I miss living on Capitol Hill, right in the area where you are talking about. Then again, living away from that hub in the neighborhoods we do (you over there in West Seattle and me in Greenwood) provides a different advantage, and not just for "avoiding" unpleasantries, but when these things do occur, there's less of a crush of people to afford the ability to discuss what is going on. Or something like that. There is one guy who regularly sells Real Change here in front of the post office. A few "regular" homeless around the Fred Meyer. While there has been an increase in "petty" crime in the neighborhood, there thankfully hasn't beeen an increase in violence. I don't know where I'm going with this...