Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Thank You, Feeding the Homeless and Can I Stay in my 20s Forever?

Tonight was a great evening.

First off, I want to thank the nice young lady who gave me a loonie to plug the parking meter. She was walking down the street with big, huge headphones on, and actually stopped and pulled them off when I said, "excuse me." When I asked if she had change for a ten, she just gave me a loonie so I could get enough time to head into the City Centre mall to meet my friend for half an hour. So, thank you. And I promise I will pay it forward.

Once in the mall, I ran to meet up with a friend to finish up some power shopping before we had to meet some other people a little further away from downtown. Now, for some time, I've been looking to replace my basic brown pumps (which got nasty salty snow dripped all over them thanks to the lazy guy who couldn't be bothered to shovel the walk) and my black pumps (the lifts were gone, and while I could replace them, they never really fit anyway). On a whim, I popped into Nine West, and guess what? Black and brown pumps... on sale... 70% off.

See, I hate buying cheap shoes. But I'm too poor (hello MBA tuition bill) to shell out money for good shoes. The compromise is that I've learned where to buy the good shoes for insane-percent-off. So, without a stressful shopping trip spent searching for shoes, I found both in five minutes.

Fast forward to sitting on the patio at Famoso with some more friends. Eating Neapolitan-style pizza and sipping Pinot Grigio, which is the only type of wine that I absolutely love. Since it's downtown, there are always characters around. As we are eating, this homeless man comes over, opens the plastic pane separating us from him and starts to ask if we've seen his car keys around. Apparently this man is a regular, since our server comes over and says "okay, Wayne, it's time to go." Our server started to close the plastic pane, and Wayne pushed back, and we all felt a little awkward, wondering whether we were supposed to watch or just resume our conversation.

Wayne goes away, but is back a few minutes later. In between, two girls had sat down at the table beside us. When our server came to ask Wayne to leave, the girl at the other table asked if she could give him some of her food. The server said no, since he was disturbing the guests, and the girl sarcastically replied, "yeah, we wouldn't want to feed the hungry." (She wouldn't let up... The server said, "he's reached in and taken food off plates before," and she retorted "you take people's plates off the table." While I appreciated her sentiments, I did want to kick her in the teeth.)

The first thought that immediately came to mind was the comparison between not feeding wild animals in parks. And when that thought hit, I was immediately confronted with the gap between rich and poor in our society. I don't tend to think of myself as rich, but being on the inside of that very physical barrier, treating Wayne almost as an animal, hit like a ton of bricks. I am so blessed with what I have. I would love to say that I went after dinner, gave him some food and got him off the street, but in reality I felt more comfortable after he left. It's all too easy to contribute to charitable organizations on a regular basis and then do our best to ignore people in need. And, again, I wish I could say something more noble, but I do wonder how best to contribute to social justice in society.

And, now that this is getting long, I just want to close with one thought: Can I just stay in my 20s forever? I love evenings on the patio, talking to friends who are between undergrad and graduate degrees, and sharing stories of new jobs and vacations. It was the last visit that we'll have for quite some time, as I am off to Virginia in a few weeks for my MBA, and another friend is heading back to law school.

No comments: