Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Eventful Trip to Rita's

     After putting in a long day of work today and having dinner with clients, I got back to my hotel and decided it would be nice to get out for a walk to clear my head and maybe get some ice cream.  When I asked for suggestions from the person at the front desk, I learned that there was a Rita's not too far away.  He gave me a map and some instructions warning me to stay on the main roads because some of the neighborhoods near there weren't the nicest.  Off I went.
     My hotel is directly across the street from PNC Park and the Pirates were playing at home tonight so the area was fairly busy.  Before I had walked 5 minutes, I was approached by a man (a beggar?) who first wanted to sell me a ticket but when I said I didn't want one he decided to shift strategies.  He told me that he was a Christian (I think this was to imply that he was safe) and pulled out his Bible to "prove" it.  He then said that he hadn't been able to feed himself or his daughter all day (I'm not sure where she was??) and asked if I could help with some money for McDonald's.  Well, I happened to be carrying one of my gift cards to McDonald's so I said I'd give him that.  At least I knew he could only use it for its intended purpose.
     As I continued on my way I did get to some fairly "sketchy" areas but eventually found the Rita's.  It was 8:54, and though the hours posted said they were open till 9:00, the doors were locked.  I saw someone inside cleaning up and when she refused to acknowledge me or the time, I figured it was a lost cause.  I did find a gas station with a market where I could get myself an ice cream sandwich, which I enjoyed on my way back.
     As I started on the return journey I passed a man who appeared to have been at the game.  He was friendly and we exchanged "hello's" as we passed.  A moment later the young man stopped and explained that he had been at the game, had a fight with his wife, and was now trying to get a bus ride home.  He wondered if I could spare even some loose change to help him out.  I gave him the change that was in my pocket from having just bought the ice cream sandwich, and he seemed genuinely appreciative, as expressed with his "God Bless You" parting.
     It's certainly possible, and perhaps even probable (?), that both of the people to whom I gave money were scam artists.  I suspect the first guy did not have a daughter and I doubt (though it's not really relevant) that he was a Christian; but I do think that he was hurting on a variety of levels and so if my gift card helped him out even just a little bit, then it was certainly worth it.  The same is true of the second person.  I somehow believe the second man may have been telling me the truth; but here, again, even if he wasn't, he clearly was down on his luck and if my spare change was helpful to him, then I'm glad I was able to help.
     I don't really know, nor will I ever know, the full stories of these two people, what caused their struggles, and what led them to cross my path tonight.  It certainly is not my place to guess or to judge.  They needed help and I chipped in.  That's all that matters, I think.

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