Last weekend was the first time I’ve been out on the streets since last month. I have been down due to an acute infection, which rendered me almost completely bedridden for weeks. The few times I ventured out all ended up in fever and severe pain, so I refrained from leaving house whenever possible. The one time I did go out downtown, I met a man panhandling on the streets. He looked like he was in a wretched state, with tattered and dirty clothes, messy beard, and grime on his exposed skin. I guessed it was because I was the only one who made eye contact with him, but he persisted in following me from the streets all the way to the skytrain. He begged and begged, but I had nothing on me and could not talk due to the infection, so could only shake my head. He looked utterly defeated, which made me feel awful. The look in his eyes made me suspect that he might have thought me simply being cruel.
I was finally strong enough last weekend for the walking required to do my volunteer work and went to pick up a loaf of bread. A friend was kind enough to help and even bought strawberry jam for the endeavour. Together, we made peanut-butter and jammy sandwiches, and passed them out around the neighborhood ^.^
As I was unable to walk too fast, I missed the last skytrain by 20 seconds. This turned out to be a small blessing, for I was able to witness two good deeds because of it. The first was a kind act of which I was the receiver. After a few hours out in the cold air, I started to burn up a little. The fever went down after I took a tylenol, but I was still feeling very weak and tired. A skytrain staff saw me and ran after me as I exited the station to see if I was okay. He was very concerned and offered to give me a ride home after his shift or call the taxi as I did not look too well. It was very kind of him, and put me in a good mood despite declining to take the late-night bus.
On the bus, I saw the second good deed. A group of young people were chatting away on the bus. If I remember correctly, one of them said that Metis people were vegan, that Columbus founded Canada, and that her people owned the land. This was overheard by an Aboriginal women in the neighboring seat. She became furious and reacted strongly to the offense, which was understandable. A bearded man tried to help, but ended up inciting her even further. One of the onlookers, a young tattooed woman beside me went over to calm her down. She did so by validating the insulted woman’s feelings and offering sympathy. This turned the Aboriginal woman’s attention to her and the former lessened her attack.
The Aboriginal woman was swearing and yelling to defend her people from the racist comments made by the group earlier. In contrast, the tattooed woman was patient and calm. All she did was listen to the angry rant and provided acknowledgement/validation. She did not even mention the young group at all and focused only on the Aboriginal woman’s feelings, which avoided further confrontations. It was a remarkable moment. Later, after the Aboriginal woman and the group of young people got off the bus, the bearded man who had earlier tried to intervene came over and offered the tattooed woman an earphone so they can share some music, and they struck up a friendship right then and there. I saw everything, and was very touched by the whole thing. I thought this woman was amazing and brave, and it was very encouraging to see that people were willing to put themselves in the line of fire to help out. I was especially impressed by how she handled the situation, which reminded me of what a counsellor would do. I also thought it was super cute how the bearded man immediately came over to make friends with the tattooed woman. It was lovely to see how accepting she was to complete strangers in a time when it is much easier to be wary of strangers and remain as passive bystanders to situations that call for help.
I ended up arriving home at about 4 in the morning, and was completely wiped out, but I felt it was worth it just because of what I had seen on the transit 🙂
Good people are everywhere, and it was reassuring to know that so many people are willing to help out strangers.
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