It’s not yet seven o’clock in the morning. A clump of us are walking from the bus stop to our respective offices to start the week, our heads down. I see the feet of a man standing on the sidewalk in the cold rain, asking for food.
“Can you buy me a meal…for a change. Can you buy me a meal… for a change.” It is a statement more than a question.
My heart tells me to look up. Look him in the eye and acknowledge him as a fellow human being. I don’t, again. Feeling ashamed and intimidated, I walk past him in my clean, warm clothes on my way to a good job.
I am embarrassed to stop. Embarrassed that I have everything I need and he is begging for food. Ashamed that our worlds are so different while our lives cross on the same sidewalk. Ashamed that we all walked past like he is invisible.
The details of his story are unknown to me. What I do know is in this moment that I am not hungry enough to ask strangers on the street for food. That doesn’t make one of us more than and one of us less than.
I wish I had turned my head to look him in the eye and said good morning. Asked if I could buy him a coffee. Asked if he was OK. I didn’t. I chickened out again.
Will someone break their morning routine and stop? Will they look directly at him, smile and say good morning? Offer to buy him something to eat?
Why didn’t I?