Good morning, everyone. Apologies for having taken so long to write my next post.
I really, really hate taking the bus to and from the city, so I will go to great lengths to avoid it. There is no direct bus service from New Jersey to the Bronx, where my husband's main office is located, so he drives in every day, and I usually go with him. He drops me at the subway on the way to his office. Most Fridays, he has a very early meeting in Manhattan, so he leaves home at the crack of dawn. To avoid taking the bus, and to get a lift directly to my office, I get up early and go along with him.
This can mean that I am sitting in the Starbucks across the street from my office at 7:00 on a Friday morning. I get a huge skinny vanilla latte and a seat by the window. I put on my headphones and pull out my knitting and knit for an hour. And then I am still the first person in the office at 8. No one in my office notices or cares. But I have managed to avoid the bus, so I feel like I am ahead.
Last Friday morning, I was sitting in my window seat, knitting a sock for my son, sipping at my coffee, and watching people walk by on Broadway, when I was approached by an unkempt-looking man. He had not bathed or shaved in a while, and his shoes were held together by duct tape. He wore a jacket that was several sizes too big for his gaunt frame. "Excuse me, miss," he said. "Can you spare a dollar?"
I am often approached by people on the street asking for money, but it's a little unusual for something like that to happen indoors. I heaved a sigh, put down my knitting, and reached for my purse.
He misinterpreted my sigh. It was not a sigh of annoyance, but rather a sigh of pain (I am recovering from a broken shoulder, and picking up, putting down, and reaching for things is still difficult. I don't wear my sling to work, so there are no outward and visible signs of my injury). But a sigh is a sigh, and so he apologized. "I'm sorry, miss. Just a dollar. I'm hungry, you see?" He spread his arms wide, as if to demonstrate the breadth of his need.
I am not starving - that is obvious to anyone who looks at me. I don't own a lot of fancy, expensive clothes, but I was neatly dressed. I had a $5.00 cup of coffee in front of me that I had purchased not out of thirst, but expressly for the purpose of killing time. I dug around in my purse and handed the man a dollar. He executed a little bow of thanks and walked over to the counter, where he bought a muffin with my dollar and some other change he had in his pocket. He then disappeared into the crowd on Broadway.
There was a well-dressed, executive-looking young man a couple of seats away from me, furiously typing away on his iPad. He looked at me disapprovingly and said, "If you give money to guys like that, it just encourages them to come in here and disturb people."
I give money to "guys like that" all the time. Not enormous amounts of money, but change or a single bill - whatever I have on hand. Sometimes I take them up to the counter and purchase a meal for them myself. Once I bought a pair of mittens for a woman who was huddled on the street. When I worked near Grand Central Station, I went through a stretch where I bought lunch every day for a homeless man who sat outside the deli. One of my coworkers told me that he resold the food to buy drugs. I don't know whether that's true. I just know that I am lucky to have what I have, and that my religion does not allow me to tolerate suffering, real or perceived, in other human beings. I can't solve all the world's problems, but I can certainly spare a dollar now and then.
What I am knitting: I am still working on a pair of socks for my son. I have finished the first one and have moved on to the second, but progress is slow. I am also knitting a gift for someone who reads this blog regularly, so I can't give you details until it's finished.
What's in the crock-pot: Pot roast. It's almost exactly the same as beef stew, but easier on the shoulder, because you don't have to cut the meat up into small pieces. It's nice outside now, but by dinnertime it should be raining and cold, so this seemed like a pretty good plan.
What's in the future: I am working on a short story, and I have signed up for an online writing class that starts in May. Please wish me luck.