I learned the true meaning of kindness and charity when I ran into a young teen crying at a train station.
One Friday last Christmas something happened that changed the way I saw my life, and myself. It changed the way I saw the world and my place in it.
I was coming home from work after a cold hard day – I take a train, usually with a friend, and we gossip the whole way, it makes the journey shorter and the homecoming sweeter. It gives me that space so I can put my work problems behind me.
My friend and I got off the train and trooped out of the gates chattering away, in the middle of the crowd of people in a rush to get home, and that was when I noticed a girl. She was standing in a dead space next to the ticket office, a stretch of grey concrete wall, pressed up into the corner.
.She was very young, about fifteen or sixteen; medium brown hair, non-descriptive clothing. She was also crying. She was huddled back against that wall sobbing. I nearly walked past
It doesn’t take a lot to change someone’s life or rescue a lost child.
Are you ill, should we call the Police?”
“Do you need to call anyone, here is a phone, use it, call home…” The more we tried to help, the harder she cried. My friend asked her if she had been robbed, or if anyone had frightened her. She just cried.
The tears rolled down her rounded cheeks and dripped off. She kept mopping them up on her sleeve, like a child. Did I tell you she was very young? She was: also not one of those hip teens. She was well and neatly dressed, but not a fashion victim.
She was fresh-faced and sweet-looking, her hair tied up in a ponytail, carrying a school bag. Finally, she whispered: “I don’t have enough money, and they took my phone. I can’t call my parents.”
For the train? You don’t have enough money for the train?” I asked, “how much are you short?”
“60 cents.” You cannot imagine her agonized shame. 60 cents. That was all. So I gave it to her. She was shaking and crying and she swept past me and ran to the Ticket Machine. She fumbled for that precious ticket home, then she ran up the ramp to the platform, and she was gone.
We watched her go, my friend and I, and we wondered: in these times we are living in, how many people are there in distress, too ashamed to ask for help? How many times do we walk on by? And how hard can it be to stop?
Yes, there are many taking advantage, sponging off the soft-hearted; but so many more are genuinely in need, and sometimes that need is ridiculously small…
The usual excuse is: “I’m not rich, what I can do won’t make a difference…”
Neither am I. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I can tell you something, my 60 cents made a difference. A young girl got home safely. If we could ALL reach out, just once, with as little or as much as we can spare, we can make a difference.
.If all you can spare is a hug and a smile: go on, give them. We CAN matter, we can change things, we are not helpless and powerless we can change a life. Life does NOT turn on a dime – it turns on love.
We have that power, so please, next time you see someone who needs help, don’t walk on by, not today. Please.