As a woman walked down the streets one day, she spotted a beggar. The man looked pretty old, unshaven and ill-dressed. Every passerby looked at him with contempt; Not like they had anything against him, but merely because of who he was- a filthy beggar.
But when this particular woman saw him, she was filled with compassion.
The beggar was improperly dressed for the cold weather. He was wrapped up in what looked like a coat from a very old and not-so-warm suit.
She kindly asked the man “Sir? Are you all right?”
The man looked at the woman, who, clearly by her appearance that of someone from a wealthy background looked like.
The old beggar thought that she, like every other person, was mocking him. “Leave me alone,” he growled.
The women did not move. Instead, to his surprise, she smiled at him and gently asked if he was hungry.
“No, I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”-the beggar replied with notable sarcasm.
The woman’s smile did not fade. She slid her hands under the beggar’s arm and tried to pick him up.
“Woman, what do you think you are doing?” the beggar sounded annoyed.
“Is there a problem ma’am?” a policeman shouted, walking towards the lady and the beggar.
“Not at all officer. I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”-the woman replied
The policeman looked at her with surprise- “that man is old jack and has been here for years. What have you got to do with him anyway?”
“I am taking him to a cafeteria to eat something and to get him out of the cold for a while”- The woman answered.
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“It’s a good chance to feed yourself jack. Don’t blow it.”- The officer advised.
After a lot of difficulty, the woman and the officer managed to drag Jack into the cafeteria. It was past breakfast and too early for the lunch hour of the day. The manager strode towards the table and asked “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “Is this man in trouble?”
“She brought old Jack in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in my cafeteria! People like him are bad for business.”-the manager angrily retorted.
“Now you know why I didn’t want to come in here woman.”- Jack said to the lady-“now let me go. I never wanted to be here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, I reckon you know Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I do, ” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And I guess you make a good amount of money through those meetings.”
“Why does it concern you, I anyway?”
“Because I am the CEO of the company” the woman replied, showing no sign of pride in her statement. “Oh.”- it was all that the manager managed to say.
She looked at the officer- “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”
“I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”-the manager immediately replied.
“You served him right,” he said.
“Oh, believe me officer, that was not what I intended. I have a reason behind all this.”
She stared at Jack intently, and asked “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack examined her face- “well you do look familiar.”- He thoughtfully added.
“Do you remember a cold and hungry girl who frequently visited this place when you worked here?” the woman asked – “she has perhaps grown old hasn’t she?”
The officer looked surprised. He couldn’t imagine this fine looking woman as a poor and hungry woman.
“I had just graduated and had come to the city looking for a job. Didn’t find one for a really long time. I was running out of cash and had been asked to vacate my apartment too. I lived on these streets for days. It was the cold month of December, I still remember. And that’s when I found this place and walked in hoping to find a table my little budget could afford.”
Jack’s face suddenly lit up- “now I remember you. I used to be at the counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman said. “Then you offered me the biggest roast beef sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a table for me to sit and enjoy the meal. I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack asked.
“No, not exactly. That very afternoon I got a job. I worked my way up. Then, I started my own business.”
She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.
“Please pay a visit to the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now. I am sure there is something in my office for which we can use your help. We can even pay you a certain amount of your salary in advance.”
Fighting back the tears, Jack asked-“How can I ever repay your kindness?”
“You don’t have to” the woman answered.
“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said to him as they both walked out the door.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy, thank you. I saw a miracle today. And of course, thank you for the coffee”
She frowned. “I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That’s black.”
“I do use cream and more sugar than what is good for my health”- He replied
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“Please don’t be. I have a feeling that this coffee is going to taste as sweet as sugar”- He replied with a smile.
You never know how much the smallest of kindnesses can change a life or a situation. Perhaps this can be considered a tale for this coming season of celebration and potential excess.
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I do like this story Alan - ages since I fiest came acroos it. It reminds me about judgement, which is one of those areas of life that never harms to have a cosy little reminder about. Good for this weather too and indeed too that little hint on giving as weel.