Well past most people’s bedtime and I am still awake, getting ready for our little weekend getaway. The apartment is filled with the soul warming scent of the spaghetti sauce batch, slowly stirring on the stove.
I am not the bragging kind, but I make the best spaghetti sauce I’ve tasted. Even Mom, who taught me how to make it, doesn’t bother cooking her own. She waits for me to visit, and we make tons of it together.
I spent all afternoon shopping around, gathering everything we needed for our three days out in the woods.
When I got to the liquor store to get a couple of bottles of good Pinot Noir, a woman was sitting by the door. Wearing army-like old clothes, she raised a paper cup my way when I got close to her, gave me a large smile, and asked for any spare change.
I don’t like giving money to homeless people. I don’t want to encourage drug usage or give money that will be used for alcohol. I’d much rather give a larger amount and buy the person a whole lunch instead.
But I was in a bit of a hurry, and the closest grocery store was a good walk away. So I smiled back at the lady, and told her I had no change, but would gladly offer a cigarette if she smoked. (Most homeless people I’ve met do)
Her smile widdened.
That would be lovely, dear!
She pulled a bottle of Pepsi from behind her back. It was obviously given to her not long before our encounter, as I could see water pearling on the plastic. She opened the bottle and took the cigarette I was handing her.
A good Pepsi, a good cigarette, this is a lovely day indeed!
She was very sincere, I could tell. And it felt good to know I could bring a little highlight in her day. I asked if she had fire, which she didn’t. I held my lighter to her and she greeted me with an even wider smile.
What’s your name?
He face lit up, and her smile was so large that I could see she had no lower teeth.
I am Nadia! What’s yours, darling?
I presented myself and stretched out to shake her hand. She thanked me again for the smoke, and I excused myself and left…
I don’t write this to brag about being a nice person. I write it, first of all, to remember Nadia. Life is crazy, and though I doubt I’ll forget her, I know I very well might forget her name if I don’t keep it somewhere safe.
I also write it to remind you that, even if a little bit of money, or some goods may help a homeless person you encounter… Genuine human contact is something they lack even more. Try it. Give a smile, or a “Have a nice day”, or be bold and stop for a short talk. You’ll be surprised. I promise you that.
Today I didn’t make Nadia’s day. She made mine!