Lunchtime, Soup and a Crying Beggar

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Have you ever seen a grown-up man cry? I’ve seen myself a few times… But that never invokes the kind of emotion that I experienced today…

I was stuck in office and had almost forgotten about lunch. I noticed around 2 PM and since this-thing-I-was-doing was interesting enough, I thought about getting a quick soup from Specialty’s (it’s one of the 15+ cafe/restaurants near my office) – and when I am in a hurry and not very hungry, I go there… Nice thick soups for around $3-5.

Anyway, so I was just outside when I saw a beggar (it’s usual to see one in Seattle – and IMHO, more so in Seattle than in NYC). On an average, I usually see 1 beggar in a day (maybe because I travel back home around 9 or 10 at night? Maybe my opinion would have changed if I went home earlier, or if I was out around this time more regularly in NYC) It has become so regular that my instinct has been honed to murmur something like “I am only carrying cards – no cash” with a sad-smile and walk away. I won’t be lying if I say that I really don’t have any cash on me 99% of the time.

But this guy was different – most guys are used to such a reply and give a damn about it. This guy asked me again, “Please if you have any part of a dollar – even a penny” and I could see the pain or the need in his eyes… But I was walking away so fast – my brain could not catch up to my heart.

Once I got the soup I saw this guy again from the window – he was crying now – and I could see the pain in his eyes now again, only much worse. I checked my wallet but I really did not have any cash at all. And I had just paid for the soup with my card. I wanted to help him but did not know how… Anyway, I was still not so emotionally charged as I would be 2 minutes from then and so, started back to the office…

Just when I was about to enter through the door, I HEARD him cry… yes – he was crying loudly now… I felt so bad I stopped and looked back… I felt like giving him the soup I had with me… But before I realized he was already walking away.

Once in the elevator, I felt this sudden depressive emotion – man it was an awful feeling. I wish you never have to see that face or hear that cry/sob – of a grown man in real (emotional) pain.

I remember giving away $20 to a stranger in Jersey City one day – and earning a lot of flak from my friends… But I said it then, and I say it now, this guy looked like he needed the soup/$20 much more than I did.

I know (or at least, I perceive, like most of us) that most of the beggars are well-capable of acting. But what if this guy was not acting?

All this happened in a matter of 4-5 min, but left a lasting sad feeling in me. I know I cannot do anything for that man now but maybe putting this down in a blog will make me feel less guilty?

And a very un-important question – what the hell do I do with this soup now?