I used to work with one of the most talented songwriters/musicians back in the day named Ken Somerville. He once wrote an incredible track entitled, “Do Something Good For Somebody”, and to this day, it has left an indelible mark on me. The following article is to show through my own examples and experiences how to put forward that very principle.
In Need of Warmth
It was a particularly cold day in Tampa; mid-January and only 47 degrees. Oh, stop it. That’s cold for down here. It was getting late and I still hadn’t stopped for my morning coffee. As usual, rush hour was predictably terrible. So rather than sit in traffic, I decided to make my way to the Wawa convenience store just off the next exit. They always had a great selection of coffees. I grabbed the extra-large cup, filled it up, and had just enough room for a little 2% milk. I ordered a plain toasted bagel and cream cheese, then made my way out the front door.
I was met by a tall man; unkept, weathered, and appearing rather cold. He asked if I had any spare change so he could get himself a small coffee to stay warm.
“Sir, I have no change at all. I used a credit card.” I quietly responded.
“No worries, God bless and enjoy your day.” he politely replied.
I had not yet even taken a single step away from him when I looked him straight in his lonely eyes and said, “Sir, this is for you. It’s a toasted bagel and cream cheese and an extra-large Cuban coffee with milk. And God bless you.”
I then continued to head back to my car as he interrupted, “Wait. aren’t you going to get yourself another one?”
“No. I don’t need it. You enjoy and stay warm.”
The man then broke into tears while wishing me many blessings. But I knew in that moment he was the one that needed and deserved all of the blessings.
Helping a Vet
While working in the Ybor district of Tampa, we’d often go to the Burger King just a short walk up 22nd Avenue. It was the middle of July and about 99 degrees and ridiculously humid. In other words, it was stupid hot. As I made my way up the Burger King walkway, I saw a haggard man probably in his 40s sitting underneath a large bush for some shade. He looked like he was ready to pass out, to be honest. As I passed him, he didn’t say a word. He just continued to sit alone.
“Are you hungry?” I asked, as I turned back around and looked at him.
Surprised, he looked up at me and said, “Yes, but it’s okay.”
“Come in with me and I will get you some lunch.” I insisted.
We both made our way into the cool, air-conditioned restaurant as I made small talk with him. I asked his name and inquired a little about where he was from. He told me he had served in the Gulf War in the 90s, then had a series of horrible bouts with PTSD.
“What would you like from the menu?” I asked.
“You decide. I will eat anything. I really can’t thank you enough for your kindness.” he politely countered.
“Well, that makes two of us doesn’t it now because I can’t thank you enough for your service and sacrifice,” I paused. “We’ll have two large number eights, please. And can I also get two hamburgers as well please?”
I continued to talk to him and learn more about him. It was clear to me he was excited just to have a conversation. He took the tray and carried it to a table as I went to the soda machine to get the drinks. After placing the drinks on the table, I told him I needed to return to work as my break was not very long.
He said, “Wait. Aren’t you going to take your combo?”
“Those combos are for you. Take your time and enjoy your lunch and the air-conditioning.” I told him.
Inconvenient. But Do It Anyway
Thank God. I was going to be early for my electrolysis session. Traffic was fierce, but I made good time along the 15-mile ride. “Two more streets and I’m there. “I don’t think I ever made this kind of time during morning rush hour,” I whispered with accomplishment to myself.
That’s when I saw him. A man walking up and down the street, seeing if anyone might float him some spare change. He looked rough and incredibly tired. As I turned and drove past him, I saw him collapse into a seated position under a tree to catch some much needed shade. As I continued, I couldn’t help but to feel empathy for his position. Afterall, I had just been experiencing the worst year of my life–a stroke, three heart surgeries, and to top it off financial troubles as my company saw hard times.
A Dunkin Donuts caught my eye, so I quickly pulled around to the drive-thru. I ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese croissant, a large coffee with milk, and a bottle of cold water. I headed a mile back up the road in heavy traffic to try to find the man I had just saw a few minutes before. As I turned into the bank parking lot on the corner of where I last saw him, I saw he was still under the tree. I rolled down my window and yelled for him to come to my car.
When he got to my car, I said, “Here. It’s a breakfast sandwich, a coffee with milk, and a cold water. Enjoy and God bless.”
He was overwhelmed with my generosity, yet to me, what I had just given to him didn’t seem all that generous to me. He thanked me more than a dozen times as I pulled away.
I know these are only three short stories, but what I want each of you to take away from them is–too often we judge a book by its cover and within an instant make hasty assumptions because of the way someone looks or what their current position is in life. Trust me, as a transgender woman, I know all to well what it is to be profiled hastily. Did any of these individuals judge me? No.
If I had a dime for the number of times I have heard people say, “Just look at him!”, “Those people are so lazy.”, “Scammer”, “They need to get a job like the rest of us!”, “They are such a drain on society”. I cannot tell you how sad and angry I get hearing these pretentious, ignorant, and hateful descriptions. Who are we as a society, really? Think about that for a moment. What is our purpose? Have we really become so self-absorbed that we don’t truly care about anyone else that may have a life tougher than our own?
I was healing from major trauma, and had already missed several paychecks, and probably a month from being homeless myself. What’s your excuse? The next time you see someone in need, maybe you’ll think twice before judging that person by their cover, or perhaps you will remember this article and pay it forward by doing something good for somebody.