I planned on stopping for lunch at 12:30, so I’d have enough time to make my 1:00 meeting. The meeting was three blocks away from my office, and lunch about half way between.
As I approached the next intersection, I saw a familiar face. An older, homeless woman, who normally doesn’t like to be bothered and likely fights mental illness (I say this because of interactions with her, not because she’s homeless). She stood, with her overflowing cart, in the middle of the street, distraught because her cart had tipped over. From a distance, I saw three college-aged men briefly speaking with her, before they walked away.
I hung up my phone conversation and began to help pick up her belongings. As I did, she told me that the men I saw had tipped her cart over.
I couldn’t stop thinking that I needed to hurry and buy lunch so that I didn’t miss my meeting.
We finished picking up, what looked like rubbish to me, and she was on her way to finish crossing the street. I turned and ordered a vegetarian sandwich with Provolone cheese, and all the fixings.
As I ate, I wondered, should I have invited her to lunch? I mean, I had a meeting to get to but how important was my meeting compared to taking my chance to invest in her life?
I’d seen her before. Many times, actually. In the park, down the street. I’ve always said hello and she always angrily ignores or yells at me. One time, she asked for money and cussed me out when I offered to buy her lunch instead.
I finished my bread and vegetables, and began walking towards my meeting. When I made it to the same intersection as before, I saw this woman standing on the other side of the street. Apparently, still recovering from the earlier incident.
I crossed the street, and asked if she was okay. Her response? “Those Russians are new to town and they’re always fighting for their territory.” She then offered me coffee, and snack mix.