Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lesson Learned

Only in New York City will you find homeless people who are vegetarians. You're incredulous and I don't blame you. But I digress...

Last Saturday, my wonderful roommate, Fanta, baked a test run for the cookie swap we will be attending this weekend, courtesy of my equally wonderful friend, Pink. Because she had baked about 16 dozen cookies, Fanta decided to pass them out to the less fortunate of New York City. When she returned from her altruistic adventures, we discussed the plight of the homeless and what we can do to help. We found that we both always noticed one elderly Asian woman in particular who sits on the ramp under Port Authority, with her head down and eyes closed. Maybe it's because she looks like she could be my grandma, but it always makes me unbearably sad to see her. Right then, standing in our kitchen, we decided that the next weekend, we would make a few lunches and pass them out to the people on the streets, starting with the Asian woman.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning...

Fanta and I made a few turkey, ham, and Canadian Bacon sandwiches (Oscar Meyer is getting fancy!) as well as a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those that may not like turkey, ham, Canadian Bacon or didn't have the teeth to eat it. We jokingly discussed the possibility of encountering vegetarian or vegan homeless people, but...really?!

We hopped on the subway in time for lunch and made a beeline for the Asian lady on the ramp. The anticipation of seeing her was almost too much and when I didn't immediately see her, I was ready to call it a day. But she was there...fortunately...unfortunately...We offered her a lunch which she gratefully accepted and even grabbed Fanta's hand to show her appreciation.

There was a man beside the Asian lady who looked equally hungry, so Fanta offered him a lunch as well. After a bit of a discussion, Fanta asked me to give him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we were on our way. Walking to the A train, I asked her what they were talking about. The weather? The auto industry bailout?

"When I asked him if he wanted a turkey sandwich, he told me he doesn't eat meat."

"Huh. Wait, really?!"

"Yeah. And then he asked me if I was with the church."

Moving on to Washington Square Park, we didn't see very many people in need of a lunch, if you don't count the hipsters in skinny jeans who could CLEARLY use a meal or two. Ah, NYU...

Fanta and I had planned on going to Whole Foods to go grocery shopping, but because we still had some lunches left, we went to the little park next to the Whole Foods on East Houston. There we saw a homeless man in a wheelchair and approached him.

"Sir, would you like a lunch? Do you eat meat?"

Wait, did I ACTUALLY say that?

He did and was grateful for the meal we could provide him. He called to his friend across the street and pointed to his newly acquired lunch. Fanta asked him if he needed a meal as well and dashed across the street to the friend. Once we approached him, Fanta, again, chatted him up, handed him a lunch, and we headed to our Mecca. As we walked away from the friend, Fanta starts laughing and tells me that he didn't want/eat meat either. Whaaaat?!

Funny? maybe.
Unbelievable? possibly.
Entitled to make that demand? absolutely.

I think the lesson we learned today was that no matter what your life situation may be, you have every right to have your likes and dislikes - more power to you for sticking to your guns. Or perhaps the more appropriate lesson is "never judge a book by the cover". Or possibly "a baby changes everything". You pick.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazingly big-hearted of you and Fanta to think of the less fortunate. And what a selection of sandwiches! I totally would have scarfed down the meat ones ;)