Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Little Kindness

"Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

(Credited to Sir Matthew James Barrie)

The above quote popped into my head Thursday evening as I was waiting for the Number 8 to take me to school. It was not a Thursday unlike most, I worked four hours in the morning, putted around for a few hours catching up on homework and cleaning the house, then boarded MAX by 4:00 in order to get to class by 5:30 and not feel too rushed. Other than MAX being crazy full, it was a pretty standard trip in. Until roughly 4:36.

It is not uncommon for the homeless, frauds, and street kids to roam about the Pioneer Square and Pioneer Place during the evening rush hours between 4:00 and 6:00. Shortly after moving to Portland I stopped carrying cash because I was giving it all away and am not a good judge of who actually needs the money and who makes the daily rounds. I have had very few occasions where these people made me uncomfortable and a simple, "No, sorry" generally suffices as an answer to, "Do you have any spare change," etc. Apparently that was too simple for a middle-aged woman waiting a few feet from me.

A boy, probably not much older than me, if he wasn't a couple years younger than me, walked up the street asking the waiting passengers for spare change. The woman said something to the effect of "You're on the wrong side of town to be hustling," and he replied, "I wasn't here yesterday," and kept walking, but she hurled insult after insult after him until he turned to the side and gave her some choice words as he continued walking, which she hurled back even louder. The woman then turned to the gentleman closest to her to tell him how she really feels. I held back tears as the kid continued down the street, horrified at what had just transpired less than three feet from me. And felt guilty for not saying something and completely at a loss as to what I could have said.

What I saw was someone already down and out be stripped of what little pride he had left by unnecessary maliciousness. What that woman said was completely uncalled for, but I can't help but wonder if my silence causes just as much hurt in a world so badly in need of a little compassion.


Shawna said...

I'm tagging you, Nike! Do this if you want to.

Norma said...

It always amazes me how mean people can be. I feel your hurt.