Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Bonus OR Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah (One Good Deed Follows Another)

I had been meaning to write about this for quite some time, but never got around to it. Walking around yesterday, doing errands, and dealing with people reminded me of it. I love the way most people turn beautiful when they smile; a real smile that reaches their eyes, that is. Someone who looks unapproachable or just not pleasant automatically becomes accessible as soon as their lips turn upward.

I smile at everyone, well, almost everyone. It's who I am. At one point in my life it was extremely difficult to look people in the eye, even more so if they were strangers. Since I've made it past that point, I enjoy the ability to look and interact with people. It doesn't matter what they're wearing or if they are standing behind a counter ringing up a sale. I even smile at the homeless and down on their luck. They're people too and probably appreciate the smile more because they don't get that kind interaction that often.

So here are two stories about the homeless. First the background. I don't have that much money, and I've dealt with addicts so I do not give cash or checks to people. I do, however, make sure to carry food with me, in the car, in my pocketbook, or in my pocket. Usually it's whatever DB is taking to schools for snacks that week, fruit rolls, pretzels, and if it's cool out I will keep apples in the car. I eat them too when I get hungry.

There are usually homeless people near off ramps of the major highways, and I ask them first before I hand them food. Just because they're poor doesn't mean that they aren't picky. Then I give them the food and, "Have a nice day, Sir." Why not? Hashem made them too. They deserve respect if only for that reason. Usually after they hear that they give an even bigger smile and stand a little straighter. Yes, I do this for selfish reasons. It makes me feel good to make other people feel good. It always eats at my heart to see someone living on the street. I know how easy it actually is to get there. No, I've never been homeless, but in housing court and possibly evicted without somewhere to go comes darn close.

I was leaving Shmellen's apt. in the city and a man was holding a cup with change and jingling it. He was dressed in clean clothes and didn't really look like he needed it, but who's to say he didn't have a chance to shower and get some new clothes from a shelter. It just so happened that I didn't have food in my pocketbook. The sun had just set. The lights were coming on in the city and the street vendors were packing up.

I asked the gentleman if he would like a banana or two from the fruit cart. He immediately answered yes and I realized that maybe he would like something instead of a banana. Maybe he doesn't like them. I found out that he prefers peaches and I asked for two of them. The man who obviously owned the business instructed his employee to take from a certain box, and I could tell that those were the good peaches.

Once again, I wasn't thinking and I started to hand the peaches to the gentleman. The employee asked him if he would like them in a bag, and the answer was yes. Duh, CR. The owner who had continued packing up added two plums to the bag free of charge without letting the homeless man see. I noticed and made sure to thank him after the gentleman walked away. He tried to shrug it off, but I made sure he knew that it was something good that he did. I gave him a big smile too. He smiled back, and you could see that giving the extra fruit had made him feel good. From the way he acted it looked like he might do that in the future.

As my mother says I got "a bonus"; the appreciation from the gentleman, the extra fruit and the smile from the owner.

I'll write the other story later...


smoo said...

I wouldn't detract from your kindness by focusing on the selfish aspect. If there was no benefit to gain from an act of kindness, kindness would never have evolved. You scratch my back I scratch yours. Once that mechanism of acting kind is in place and ingrained in our psyche, true altruism can emerge. And even if it makes you feel good, the stranger doesn't appreciate it any less.

You see that kindness can become contagious. It is amazing how small acts or facial contortions can impact others in such a profound way. That's a lot of responsibility to shoulder.

jewmaican20 said...

That''s all I can say...
How refreshing!

come running said...

can't stop analyzing

glad you enjoyed the post