The other night during class break I went to CVS. In the entrance way was a gentleman crouched in the corner next to a Septa tokens machine. As I entered, he called out, “Miss, Miss, excuse Miss.” I turned in his direction. “Can you please buy me some tokens, Miss?” I lowered my eyes and shook my head no even as my arm instinctively reached out towards him.
In the store I aimlessly walked up and down the aisles with a stream of thoughts flooding through my mind. Why do I feel compelled to buy this man a token? He isn’t feeble, old or disabled. He is about my age, why doesn’t he buy his own damn token? Maybe I’ll get him an apple or something. But he asked for a token. I don’t have to give him what he asks for, for Christ sake he’s a bum. Why should I provide for him? I certainly don’t have to do anything, right? Maybe it’s better if I don’t. Perhaps, I give away things for free too often. Most people I know wouldn’t think twice about this man, why do I care? He doesn’t give a shit about me. But what if I were him? What if I were in his shoes? Wouldn’t I hope somebody would help me out, somebody would show me kindness? For fuck sake, cut out this shit and get back to class.
I went through the self checkout line and looked over to see if the man was still there. A wave of relief washed over me when I didn’t see him. Then I walked out into the foyer and he appeared from around a pole. “Miss, can you help me out?” he asked again. I kept walking as I mumbled an apology. Just as I was walking through the glass doors he replied, “God Bless You.” It stopped me in my tracks. I turned around to face him. “You really want these tokens, huh?”
“Yes I do.”
I sighed as I approached the machine. When I heard the sound of my own breath I realized this act of kindness was coming from the wrong place. My mother’s voice sailed through my head telling me that true gifts of the heart are freely given with love without expectations of receiving something in return.
“Where are you headed?” I asked as I tried to figure out the machine.
I put in two dollars and then had to put in a ten dollar bill because I didn’t have any more singles. “Oh, the things we have to do for money.” I said more to myself than to the man. He remained silent as the coins cascaded down, five tokens and 20 dimes. I collected my change and dropped a token in the man’s hand, “Safe travels.” I liked the idea that this token was going to take him somewhere, that perhaps his imagination would be feed along the way.
As I walked away I made sure to send out a little blessing from my heart center in the man’s honor. If I were Jamaican perhaps this would be called a positive vibration. When I got to the corner of the street something compelled me to turn around. Suspended between two skyscrapers was a magnificent full moon. It shone brightly through a thick layer of fog and illuminated the sky with an iridescent glow. The sight of its beauty made my heart palpitate. Sometimes blessings make their way back to you.
A Warrior Princess