Sunday, November 25, 2012
Day 330: Walked In Someone Else's Shoes
“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” That quote is from the classic book "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it is what inspired my random act for today. I've tried to do random acts to support the homeless throughout the year because I always imagine myself in that scenario and hold out hope that others would help if it was me. While I think I have a basic understanding of how rough life is for them, I didn't think I could fully appreciate what they go through without experiencing it first hand. So today, for my random act of kindness, I walked in someone else's shoes by posing as a homeless man on one of the busiest corners in the city. I would then give all of the money collected to a person in need.
I am 6'3" and 200 lbs., but today I felt no bigger than Isla. Hundreds upon hundreds of people walked by me without looking at or even acting as though I was invisible. People whispered about me as they walked by, and some even snickered at me. It actually got me pretty down and depressed. However, every once in a while, someone would come up to me, ask me how I was doing, and put something into my tattered pink Solo cup. Just having someone give me a quick smile and acknowledge my existence as a human being raised my spirits so much. One man came over and tried to give me half of a deep dish pizza, so I had to let him in on what I was doing. The one thing I kept noticing over and over again was that children kept asking their parents if they could give me something. Sometimes the parents obliged, sometimes they didn't. A child saw a penny on the ground, picked it up, and rather than keep it, came over to put it in my cup. I told him to keep it for good luck. A lot of people stopped to read the above sign, and I truly think that people gave me change because I had that Aesop quote rather than asking for something. After a few hours, I noticed that I had collected nearly $20, mostly because, unbeknownst to me, a person had put in a $10 bill wrapped in a $1 bill. Near the end of my time on the corner, a woman came up asking the dozens of people huddled there if they could spare any change for a meal. No one gave her the time of day, so I got up, walked over to her and told her she could take everything that had been donated to me that day. The looks on the people's faces as they saw a "homeless" man give all of his money to another homeless person were unforgettable. My hope is that at least one person saw this exchange and put some thought into giving to others this holiday season. I know that many people don't feel comfortable giving cash or change to homeless people because "they'll spend it on booze and drugs." However, the kindness comes in the act of giving. Whatever the person does with the money is on them. If you want to, a simple hello, smile or extra slice of pizza could probably make someone's day. I know it made mine.