An individual, in yesterday’s clothes, teeth unbrushed, and disheveled is now heading toward a bus stop; possibly looking mildly (but not emergency center ) ill.
What are your first thoughts and reactions to this verbal picture? Be totally honest, because you’re the only one who will know your answers.
Pan to the plastic bag the individual has hooked over a brace on the left arm. Slowly track down to the backpack on wheels being drawn along the sidewalk
Tracking back up, bring into focus the material six-pack cooler slung over the individual’s shoulder and resting at about hip height.
It’s Sunday. The scene takes place at 6:55am on an industrial/commercial business corner of the city. It’s not cold, however, the individual seems to have a taken a chill.
Have your thoughts and reactions changed, remained the same, or zoned out?
Fade out on the bags and dissolve to the upper arms and hand of the individual. Very small blistering and skin discoloration are visible on the underneath of the upper arms and on the right hand.
Bring the nose into the picture to catch the chapped, red, and apparent runny-ness of the proboscis. Zoom into the area of the eyes, be sure to pick up the watering, and slight crusting.
Flash the image so it is now from the individual’s eyes to what they are seeing.
What is the facial expression on your face this individual is now seeing? What are your thoughts and reactions as you observe this individual?
Whatever your thoughts and reactions to the verbal image presented are, you don’t have to share. However, keep them in mind for me for a bit longer.
The individual being described to you is homeless, staying in a temporary shelter during the nights. The items in the backpack include as many things as possible to deal with allergic/sensitivity symptoms that are vacillating from mild to moderately severe.
The symptoms are not severe enough for the individual to go to the emergency room (a huge expense to the tax-payers), yet are distinct enough that the individual needs to lay down, rest, and have access to fresh water and a restroom.
The collapsible cloth-made six-pack cooler is what the individual uses for a lunch bag.
The shelter has to have its clients out of the building, as there is no one at the facility on the weekends during the daytime. So the individual cannot stay there during Sunday in the daylight hours.
Have your thoughts and reactions changed in any way? Just keep track, your answers are for you, not me, and not the rest of the world.
Lest you draw the wrong impression, the shelter is a fine one. Filled with caring and humane people. The fact that it has hours when it is closed and no official is in the facility is simply a mix of time, fiscal reality, and human manpower. Every place and every human (including service workers) needs to have respite time.
The individual is marking time looking for a place to be. To have a restroom nearby (and be safe) until 1:pm when most public libraries open on Sundays, so that the person can then be in a building. While in that building to have 1 hour computer time and then wend their way back for when the shelter opens.
During the 6 hours that need to be whiled away, the individual, goes to two stores to purchase items that are now needed to combat the allergic/sensitivity physiological symptoms.
Note any differences in your thoughts and reactions now.
The individual is me.
During my stops today:
- I have given directions to 3 sets of tourists (at 3 different bus stops) because 2 walked up and asked; one couple looked like they needed them so I offered, offer accepted.
- I have complimented a bus driver verbally because he is an artist at his job. He took the time to show concern and respect for his patrons as they boarded and exited – the elderly (female and male); the young; those of color; those not of color; those able and those disabled. I also took the time to get his bus id# and his sleeve badge id# and will be sending a huge “atta-boy” to the MTA folks when it’s my turn on the internet computer in a few moments.
- I have had 6 people, from the physically bedraggled to the possibly mentally bedraggled ilk, speak to me during the day, wanting to be heard. I’ve listened and chosen to respond to them. They smiled or thanked me during our conversation, even if it was not particularly coherent.
- I have traveled through 5 cities.
- I’m still as sick as I was this morning, yet I have directly made an impact in the lives of at least 12 people whom I’ll never see, and most probably would not even recognize again.
Have your thoughts and reactions changed any now?
Now, come back to this written blog.
Be not stressed one way or another by your answers.
However, I’ll ask you to keep this in mind as you go throughout your days …
Due to your perceptual filters how you interpret what you observe affects your reactions. Reacting is letting the circumstance act on you.
If you choose to be aware, you can also choose to respond. Responding is you acting on the circumstance.
Make a difference, for yourself. Act on the circumstance. By doing so, you’ll make a difference for others.
Trust me. It’s so.
|Photo by: Andy|
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0