My husband and I went out shopping when he came home from work yesterday afternoon. Actually it was more like evening – he needed a rest when he arrived home and spent a couple of hours in the backyard talking to all of our neighbors. The nickname I have for him certainly suits him – Sir Talkalot. We didn’t hit the road until about 5:30 p.m..
Off we went. First to a hardware store to pick up some more items for all of our on going renovation projects. I really don’t know if we’ll ever have this house finished. Some days it doesn’t feel like it. Then we went to the grocery store so that I could pick up all the ingredients that I needed for my grilled veggie recipe. Chris then decided that we needed to get some beer, and while we were going there way anyway, I decided that I wanted to get some wine to use to marinade the chicken with that I was planning to have with our BBQ that night.
When we pulled into the Beer Store (in most of Canada we have Government run beer and Liquor stores) we noticed a man standing near the entrance playing the guitar and singing. He was obviously playing for money. He wasn’t a street person, but he was someone that looked like he’d had a hard life, and was either pulling himself back onto his feet, or who was at great risk of losing everything.
Since my husband is an accomplished guitarist we’ve both developed a good ear for music and for other musicians talent, and it was obvious that this man knew what he was doing. He was playing quite well.
As we sat in the car we both looked down at the little storage compartment in the car, where a glass finger slide has sat for oh, approximately one year. My husband bought it and quickly discovered that it was too slim for his thick fingers, and that he wasn’t going to be able to use it for playing slide guitar. It was placed in the car with it’s receipt to be returned, but of course, never was taken back to the store. My husband has a habit of buying things and not returning them. When we are renovating he often buys one or two extra of whatever item we are working with at the time, just in case we need it or in case he makes a bad cut in a piece of wood for example. Unfortunately at least 2/3 of these items never get back to the store that we purchased them from because he either misplaces the receipt or just doesn’t do it. Luckily we’ll find a use for many of the extra items at some point. I hope!
At least we found a use for the too small slide! We got out of the car and approached the street musician. While he played my husband held up the glass slide, and sort of put it near the mans fingers as he played. The man had no idea what Chris was doing. Chris was actually measuring the thickness of the mans fingers to see if he could use the slide, but the man thought Chris was just showing it to him.
Chris and I talked with the man for a few minutes and he accepted the slide. His brother was nearby and he was also a guitar player, who happened to have experience playing slide guitar. Eventually Chris went into the beer store and I walked a little ways down the street to the liquor store where I bought not one bottle of wine, but three! No, I’m not a lush. Really.
My husband was supposed to meet me in the liquor store but he never made it. I arrived back at the entrance of the beer store to find him with his foot propped up on the newly purchased case of beer playing the mans guitar. We both felt good about having given away the too small slide. The street performer appreciated the gift, and who knows perhaps he’ll be able to expand his repertoire and earn a little bit more money by using his gift.
We aren’t always generous with street people but I think we stop and give them change more often than many people do. In fact, as I came out of the liquor store with my three bottles of wine, did I say that two of them were large bottles?, there was a man selling ” street news” outside the store, so I stopped and gave him one of our Canadian clunky $2 coins (twoonies we call them).
Actually, when I stop and think about it we’ve given away a lot of money this week. My brother was in town visiting from Vancouver, and we spent last Monday evening downtown with him, his wife and my sister. We must have given change to at least 4 people that evening. Oh and my sister-in-law gave an odd gift to our waiter. His back was very sore, you could see how much pain he was in as he served us or stooped to pick something off the floor. We called him over and we asked him if he wanted something for his pain. I happened to have my pain pills with me, but they are very strong and I likely wouldn’t have felt comfortable giving out such a strong medicine to a stranger, however she had some Tylenol #3’s on her and gave him two. By the time we were leaving the restaurant the waiter was feeling much better.
We had a couple more trips downtown and to the airport this week, and as we drove under the highway underpass, and through the downtown streets we occasionally encountered street people or ‘Squeegee people’ (ones who try to wash your car windows) when we were stopped at lights. I think we gave change to most of the ones that made it to our car window before the lights changed.
I’m glad we don’t go right downtown too often or else we’d really be broke. My husband would give money to everyone with a cup that he encountered if I let him! I’m a little more cautious, and or selective about who I give money to. I find that once you start, the other people see what you are doing and flock around you if you are in an area that has a lot of street people. Kind of like pigeons when you think about it. When I give out change I try to pick people that look like they really need it.
Another random act of kindness that we occasionally perform is giving out parking passes. If our parking tickets or passes still have time left on them when we are about to leave, and we see someone parking in a lot, or on the street, we’ll often walk up to the driver and give them our pass. Most people are so surprised when we do this. A half an hour or more of free parking? Thanks stranger!
Have you done any random acts of kindness lately? Given away an unusual item to a stranger who might need it? Carried someones groceries to the car? Anything that put a smile on another persons face just because it was so unexpected?
How do you feel about street people? Do you occasionally give change to ones that you pass regularly or who look needy?
When Chris and I finally reached home yesterday evening we enjoyed a nice meal of Shiraz marinated grilled chicken breasts, grilled veggies in a Dijon vinaigrette, rice and salad. Mmmm it was so good. Our last random act of kindness was that we shared it with our boarder. Ok, we have to feed him, that’s part of the deal, but it sounded good when I wrote it.