I had lunch with a friend today at a diner in San Francisco's Union Square. It was a welcoming and warm California fall day. One could feel the expectation of the name brand merchants for the rush that will come on Black Friday. Windows were dressed, and displays meticulously arranged. In the middle of the square stood a holiday tree, stories high, still surrounded by cherry pickers used to decorate it with lights and colorful bulbs.
And as it is written in which Gospel I can't remember, the poor are always with us. Many now have feline companions. I imagine it must be quite comforting to hold something soft and warm.
I tend to be the type that doesn't lower my gaze or look away when asked for a contribution. If I can give, I do. If I can't, I at least offer a sincere smile to acknowledge the request. And sometimes, I get the rare opportunity to jump in and give the right thing at the right time.
On my way back from lunch, I was waiting at an intersection when I heard an auditable "No!" It was a yell of unexpected loss. When I looked up I saw a man mourning the loss of a sandwich he had just scored, but dropped in the intersection. It had fallen apart, its individual components of bread, turkey cheese and lettuce scattered in the crosswalk across the street from me. I quickly grabbed for my wallet, wanting to replace his loss with a dollar or two, but as I reached him, I suddenly realized, in my hand was a nicely boxed untouched half of a Ruben sandwich with Fries. And just as he looked up from his loss for empathy I was able to offer it to him.
"Really?" he asked?
"Yeah," I said.
"When one door closes another one opens," he said. "Thank you so much."
I just smiled and continued on my way thankful for the opportunity to be able to give the right thing at the right time. Heading back to work, I passed by the temporary ice rink set up in the square, and contemplated the California dream I live in.