A Tale of Two Street People
At about 9:00 this morning, I was on my usual drive to bring my daughter to her learning center. We were at the usual intersection, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. We saw the usual female beggar weaving through waiting cars. Clutching an old McDonald’s paper cup, she knocked on my daughter’s car window. I gestured for her to come to my window. I gave her a pack of biscuits (husband and I always keep biscuits in the car to give away). She took it and stoically walked away.
I happened to look at my side view mirror and I saw her throw the pack of biscuits into the bushes in the road divider. Then she continued begging.
About ten minutes later, on my drive back, I saw her again. Sitting on the curb, smoking a cigarette.
She was a woman on the street, a beggar who didn’t want free biscuits and wanted to smoke. She refused what little help I gave and threw it away like trash. I was dismayed.
At about 5:00 this afternoon, I was on my usual drive home after fetching my daughter. We were passing the usual nearby mall when I saw a familiar street vendor, a man carrying a styrofoam cooler while walking with a crutch. I first saw him walking along the road some months ago, and I immediately noticed that the front part of his right thigh was very swollen. I was in moving traffic then and couldn’t stop, but I had hoped to see this vendor again.
Today, I saw him struggling on the sidewalk. He stopped walking, put down his load for a few seconds, then carried it and started walking and ringing his bell again. Thankfully, this time there was no traffic so I was able to stop my car and talk to him. I offered to buy two pieces of ice buko. Before my daughter could hand him our payment, he asked if we had any water as he was so thirsty from walking all the way from Filinvest (about a 2 kilometer walk). He also said that no one was buying his ice buko.
I apologized because we didn’t have any drinking water in the car at that time. He asked if we could do him a favor and buy two bottles of water for him at a nearby convenience store and bring them to him. He started getting his money out to pay for the water. We didn’t take his money and I said that we would get him some water and come back.
We drove to the nearest convenience store to buy some bottles of water. After a few minutes, we drove back to the same spot and found this man sitting on the curb with his cooler and his crutch. I asked my daughter to hand him the water bottles. He smiled at us and thanked us, not only for the much needed water but also for the extra money that came with our payment for the ice buko.
As I drove away, I looked at my rear view mirror and I saw him again. Sitting on the curb, drinking water.
He was a man on the street, a handicapped street vendor who only wanted water to drink and to sell popsicles. He was thankful to be given water, to earn some money, and perhaps to simply be acknowledged. I am thankful that he gave me the opportunity to give joyfully. Thanks to this man, I am heartened.
(Note: Photos are not of the people mentioned. These are stock photos from the Internet.)