Posted by: Suzan | March 3, 2020

A Stranger is a Friend I have not Met

After filling my cart at the Dollar Store with items for the homeless, I could not find the end of the check-out line. It had wrapped past the cashiers, across the store, and then wound its way down an aisle. It could have been people buying up goods in anticipation of the Coronavirus. All I knew is I had a choice to leave or stay and be patient realizing at $1.00 per item, for me it is worth the wait. One person in line grumbled, yelled something at the clerk, and then abandoned her full cart in the line. We are all at choice.

I pulled up behind a 60ish year old Latina woman who immediately struck up a conversation.

“Why do you think the line is so long today?” she asked.

“I really don’t know but I need to get to the homeless club soon for my presentation.” I said.

“What are you doing for the homeless?” she asked.

I told her how I work for NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and share a message that recovery is possible with my personal story. NAMI runs a clubhouse for homeless with mental health conditions and I sometimes bring my inspirational message to them although not without a raffle bag. I’ve found this entices them to join me and then also to stay throughout the presentation. Each participant must be present at the end to receive the raffle bag (stock-filled with useful items like socks, water, food and more).

The lady I spoke with shared her name was Isabel. I learned she too has an affinity for the homeless and often prepares home cooked meals which she brings to different homeless groups.

Isabel leaned in and asked, “Do you get reimbursed for buying these items?”

“No. I do it because I care and it works.” I said.

“Allow me to buy them for you,” she said.

hands heart love

I felt my heart soften and open as tears glistened along my eyelids. So this is her paying it forward I thought. My love and respect for humanity had deepened with this unexpected loving gesture.

“Yes thank you so much. I’m so touched.” I shared.

As we approached the cashier, Isabel reached over and threw some more bags of food into my cart. “You don’t have enough for them, “she said with a big smile.

She walked in front of my cart and said to the cashier, “I’m paying for the items in this cart.” She handed the sales associate the cash.”

Then Isabel said, “I own some orchards and often have cases of fruit I need to share before they spoil. I now know I can bring them over to the homeless at NAMI’s clubhouse.”

All of this because I chose to stay in the line, not complain nor get lost staring at my phone. We never know where our conversations with strangers may lead. In my case to learn that there are no strangers. Only friends I have not met yet.



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