Over the past three days, a bunch of people at work, mostly interns, helped me clean out and re-organize our basement storage area that was desperately in need of some care. As a thank you, we bought them lunch today. We had pizza, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, grapes, blueberries, cupcakes, lemonade, and soda. It was quite a feast. Most of us probably ate more than we needed to.
At the end, there were four slices of pizza left. Since I'd organized the whole shindig and four pieces didn't seem worth an email to the whole building, I decided to take the leftover pizza home. So, on my way out at the end of the day, I grabbed my bag of pizza.
As I stepped out of the door, I realized, with co-mingled guilt and dread, that when I turned the corner I would pass a small group of men and women who are homeless that I see almost every day. We often greet one another but I've never stopped to chat with them.
Often, when I pass, I feel guilty that I can't/won't/don't (depending on the day) give them anything. Today, I had that bag of pizza. I was *really* looking forward to eating cold pizza. Then I realized that, if I really wanted pizza, I could get it on a whim. I had no need for that pizza but here sat some folks who could use it immediately.
So, I stopped, greeted them, and asked if they'd like to have the pizza. This brief and somewhat thoughtless question led to an interaction of several minutes. I met John, his wife, Penny, and their "roommates," Walter and Candy. I'm sure they're not the only ones but these folks live on the steps of the building next to the one I work in. They call it their home - the "white house."
John: What do you think is the greatest nation in the world?
Me: I like Tanzania. *uncomfortable giggles*
John: The best nation in the world is a DO-nation.
We chatted and joked for a few more minutes. When John left me hanging on a high five twice I told him I was leaving. Then I was on my way.
I don't have any great lessons from this story. There's nothing especially good about what I did; I gave out of my abundance. As my mom might say, "Woopty doo." If I had hurried past and kept the pizza, I would have felt guilty for a moment, but I would have forgotten that feeling sooner rather than later.
As I walked away, though, I felt it was important to remember their names. I wanted to think of them as John, Penny, Walter, and Candy, not "homeless people." And, without any fancy insights or exhortations, I wanted to tell you all about what was probably the only part of my day I'll remember weeks from now.