The Compassion of a Stranger

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A lady walked down a city street one day, she spotted a beggar. The man looked old, he smelled, was unshaven and dressed in worn-out clothes. Everyone who passed by looked at him with contempt; they didn’t have anything against him but didn’t like him merely because of who he was…a filthy beggar.

But then, a particular woman saw him, she was filled with compassion.

The beggar was improperly dressed for the weather and it was so cold. He was wrapped up in what looked like a coat from a very old and not-so-warm suit. She asked the man with a kind voice, “Sir? Are you all right?”

The man looked at the woman, who, based on her appearance, was an example of what people from a wealthy background looked like. The old beggar thought that she, like every other person, was mocking him. He just shook his head and growled, “Leave me alone.”

But the women did not move. Instead, to his surprise, she smiled at him and gently asked if he was hungry.

“No, I’ve just come from having dinner with the president. Now go away,” the beggar replied with a notable sarcasm. The woman’s smile did not fade. She placed her hands under the beggar’s arm and tried to pick him up.

“Woman, what do you think you are doing?” the beggar said annoyed.

“Is there a problem ma’am?” a policeman shouted, walking towards the lady and the beggar.

“Not at all officer. I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will, you help me?” the women replied

The policeman looked at her with surprise, “that man is old Jack and has been here for years. What have you got to do with him anyway?”

“I am going to take him to a cafeteria to get something to eat and get him out of the cold for a while,” the women answered.

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man asked. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”

“Here’s a good chance to feed yourself, Jack. Don’t blow it,” the officer advised.

After much difficulty and effort, the woman and the officer managed to bring Jack into the cafeteria. It was past breakfast time and too early for lunch. The manager strode towards the table and asked “What’s going on here officer?” he asked. “Is this man in trouble?”

“She brought old Jack in here to be fed and get a good wholesome meal,” the policeman answered.

“Not in my cafeteria! People like him are bad for business,” the manager angrily retorted.

“Now you know why I didn’t want to come in here!” Jack said to the lady, “now let me go. I never wanted to be here in the first place!”

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, I reckon you know Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”

“Of course I do, ” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”

“And I guess you make a good amount of money through those meetings.”

“I certainly do! Why does it concern you anyway?”

“Because I am the CEO of the company” the women replied, showing no sign of pride in her statement. The restaurant owner stood there in stunned silence. “Ohhh.” was all that the manager managed to say.

She looked at the officer, “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”

“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”

“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

“I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer,” the manager immediately replied.

“You served him right,” he said.

“Oh, believe me, officer, that was not what I intended. I have a reason behind all this.” She stared at Jack intently, and asked, “Jack, do you remember me?”

Old Jack examined her face, “well you do look familiar,” he added thoughtfully.

“Do you remember a cold and hungry girl who frequently visited this place when you worked here?” the women asked, “she has perhaps grown old…hasn’t she?”

The officer looked surprised. He couldn’t imagine this fine looking woman as a poor and hungry woman.

“I had just graduated and had come to the city looking for a job. I didn’t find one for a really long time. I was running out of cash and had been asked to vacate my apartment too.  I lived on these streets for days. It was the cold month of February, I still remember how cold, miserable, and hungry I was. And that’s when I found this place and walked in hoping to find something to eat and what my little budget could afford.”

Jack’s face suddenly lit up, “now I remember you. I used to be at the counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman said. “Then you offered me the biggest roast beef sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a table for me to sit and enjoy the meal. I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack asked.

“No, not exactly. That very afternoon I got a job. I worked my way up. Then, I started my own business.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “Please pay a visit to the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now. I am sure there is something in my office for which we can use your help. We can even pay you a certain amount of your salary in advance.”

Fighting back the tears, Jack asked, “How can I ever repay your kindness?”

“You don’t have to” the woman answered. “Thank Jesus. He led me to you.”

“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said to him as they both walked out the door.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy, thank you. I saw a miracle today. And of course, thank you for the coffee”

She frowned. “I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That’s black.”

“I do use cream and more sugar than what is good for my health,” he replied.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Please don’t be. I have a feeling that this coffee is going to taste as sweet as sugar,” he replied with a smile as he walked away.

Question: What act of kindness did YOU show someone today?

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