A lot of what makes up life is the unexpected. I had a busy day at work on top of running errands for it after the practice closes. About to turn the corner to Fedex when a women asked for some change. I’m very good at knowing vibes of people, and she seemed like such a nice woman, who was just very tired after a long day. Just hearing the fact she just wanted “change” showed me she wasn’t asking too much and didn’t want to go out of my way. I gave her 20, and when she saw how much I gave her she thanked me and was really grateful. She then proceeded to tell me how she has been ignored and how no one wants to help her. Later on, she told me she was thirsty and asked if its not too much to buy her a soda at 7-11. We walked across the street and I told I can get her whatever drink she wanted. She really wanted coconut water so after we walked outside the 7-11, I still felt really sorry for her, and offered her whats left of my ChickfilA and Coffee bean gift cards with all my snacks and some hygiene product samples I get from work. She again was really thankful and she continued to talk to me and she shared her story being homeless for three years.
She told me her struggles being a homeless woman, people constantly wanting to sexually harass her and offering her drugs. She told me how many times she was shooed away trying to find places to sleep on the street, having no family and no place to go. She told me about being divorced, falling in love with an abusive and drug relapsed man, and how she got away from him. She talked about how she kept trying to find work, and asked an Del Taco employee to speak to the manager to find a job. The employee replied she can hop in the back of his car for some “cash”. She told me about how she went to several churches for some help and possibly work for the church just for some housing to not get any help. She told me she was went to many places supposedly to help the homeless, to not receive much help or care. She told me while looking at my scrubs, thinking I was a nurse, and how she wanted to be a nurse. She told me how terrible it is to live in LA and how she has been terribly treated. She told me about her upbringing, with an abusive father and has been depressed since a young age.
She has told me her story. Yet, with all the terrible things that has happened to this woman, she stayed kind, strong, determined, and hopeful. She never gave up hope for the good of people, and she didn’t give up on herself and continued to live in the pain of homelessness. When she was offered drugs left and right, she stood her ground and refused to be a druggie. What I saw in her unique beautiful blue eyes was a strong woman who didn’t give up hope. I believed in her. She later mentioned how she really wanted to leave here and go to Denver, Co because she has heard from people that the people in Denver are nicer and she woykd have better opportunities and help than here in LA. I asked her, “how are you going to get there?”. She replied she can take a greyhound bus over there and she has been trying to save enough money to buy the bus ticket. I checked my phone, curious about how much it costed. It was around $150-170.
A page of a book, a scene in a musical, changed me. When the Bishop “bought” Jean Valjean’s soul for God and good with silver candlesticks. In this story, that was what changed his whole life to do good. When I was listening to this woman’s story, that scene was what I thought of.
All of you who have read this far, remember you are far more affluent and lucky than you think. It is our duty to share and help others in need, like those who has helped us not expecting anything back. We have the power and resources to change other people’s lives and that was what I decided when I saw the price for the greyhound bus. I barely have any money as a poor college student but I thought more about the scope of things. If I was in dire need, I would hope for someone to do the same for me. All of us can make $170 back someday, and giving $170 today will forever change someone’s life right now.
So we walked to a Wells Fargo together and I gave her $170 enough for a ticket to Denver. She was extremely grateful and told me how her prayers to God was answered by me. She told me, now she can rest her weakened body and relax now, as she can finally go to Denver. She also told me how she didn’t have any friends and was lonely and I replied, “well, we are friends now “. At this point, I have been with her for 2 hours and I had to go back to my apartment. I asked if I can give her my number if she needed any more help and to call me when she finally reaches Denver.
I told her how she inspired me to be a strong, resilient, and beautiful woman like her. She told me because of her previous relationships, she felt like she wasn’t pretty enough or had to change who she was to find friends or true love. I told her, she didn’t have a change a thing about her, because she was already so beautiful. Leaving her was very very emotionally hard and during the 2 hours we’ve been together, I haven’t cried so much in a while. I’ve held her hand walking around for the past 2 hours. All I can do for her now is to wish her luck and to be safe.
This whole experience was unexpected. I could’ve ignored her asking for change, and I could of given her some money and kept walking. But I also understand what it feels like to ask and need help and just needing a person to talk about your problems with, and what you get back feels like you’re invisible.
If you read this far, thank you for caring enough to read this long post. As I’ve said before, you are far more affluent, fortunate, and powerful than you think. It is our duty to share and help others in need, like those who has helped us not expecting anything back. We have the power and resources to change other people’s lives.
If there’s anything to get out from this long of an essay, I challenge you to make a change in a stranger’s life. It can be small, big, and it doesn’t have to be monetary.
I am looking forward one day to hear Arleen call me that she has finally arrived in Denver, because then I would know that my silver candlesticks has been put into a higher use.