An unexpected twist
( a lesson in not judging a book by its cover )
It was one of those days where it was only 9 am and I couldn't be in my apartment. I had learned during these weird jobless times that when I was trapped inside my own mind , getting out, breathing fresh air , was always the best remedy. I walked the 4 easy blocks to my local coffee shop , where it was generally me and a slew of retired older men. They had lived, and had more stories in one afternoon than I could manage to carry in my own lifetime. Their stories always reminded me, now matter where my heart sat, that you really should not take the world for granted, and that its all about the little things . The stories would vary from childhood shenanigans to the afternoon they had just spent with their precious grand daughter. In a time where my generation is locked into their phones, alternating scrolls between Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, I really appreciated the genuine human stories and connection of my little coffee shop, and the owner would sometimes give me a free refill. Like I said - the little things.
On that particular morning things were a bit quieter. I was sitting on my own at a table outside, engrossed in my usual 10 minutes of Spanish I had been practising ( and had not made much progress I'll be honest ). As I was deep in "mucho gusto" a homeless man in a shopping cart approached me. Past me would have been slightly uncomfortable to be honest, but these difficult times have taught me a bit about humanity and understanding not everyone is as lucky as I am to come from where I do, and have what I have.
"Hello." He started stopped sans cart near to my table . " Hello, hows your day going ?" I gave the standard reply. "Could be better " He shrugged "My cat is quite sick and I can't afford to take him to the vet , so I'm pretty sad about that." "I'm sorry to hear that." I responded and nodded gently, trying to re focus on my lesson. "ok, well, have a good day." I politely turned my chair, and he quietly nodded and continued on. I sipped the last of my coffee and turned to leave when I noticed - "oh fuck!" My purse was gone from my chair. Now, normally the contents would not have been a huge deal, cards could be replaced, there was no cash, I had my phone - However, it also had my passport - and I had a flight the following day. I started to sweat, panic, my mind went blank as I booked it up the street to where he had headed. After 20 minutes of running around like a crazy woman, I accepted my fate. I was screwed. I called and proceeded to cancel my cards, but the passport was another matter. I headed home, downed two shots of whiskey to ease my utter panic, and sat in my "favourite chair " accepting that I would probably need to cancel my trip. That's when my cell rang . It was a number I didn't recognise, which I rarely answer with all of the scams these days, but something urged me to pick up. "April ?" The mans voice waveringly spoke . "yes, this is she..." "Its' Chris..." "Chris?" "Ya, I met you earlier today and I am , sorry , I have your purse. I looked inside and found your card. I am sorry for what I did, I had a moment but you seem nice and I am sure you could use whats inside ..." Wow, I could not even believe this strange day, or turn of events. Maybe it was the full moon, but I didn't even question it . "Chris !!!! You have no idea how relieved I am !!!! I needed that passport for my flight tomorrow !!! Please, where can I meet you?! " I then made arrangements for a nearby restaurant within a few hours and met up with Chris . We sat at a table and he passed me back my things. "I'm sorry again " He sheepishly apologised , lowering his gaze to avoid my eyes.
"Its ok, we all have hard weird times happening right now. What matters is that at the end of the day you did what was right Chris. Thank you. " I reached over and touched his hand. We then ordered some food , gratefully paid by me. Chris proceeded to tell me this last year he lost his daughter to cancer, lost his job , was currently living his day to day life in a hotel room he shared with 3 others. It made me realise that especially now, its easy to find ourselves in desperate places we never thought we would be. Its easy to judge the exterior of others, but if you take time to hear a persons story , and listen, you realise we are all human, made of the same basic things, experiencing the same emotions. Fear will divide us, but its understanding and a willingness to learn from our mistakes that will help us survive.
You did the right thing Chris. Thanks for sharing a little piece of humanity with me.