I was given such an experience last week as I walked back to my car through Huddersfield town centre.
Picture in your mind a lady of about 60. She's small and round and can't speak a word of English.
She stands in my path and stares at me with deep blue eyes, muttering something in a language I don't understand. Then she holds up a piece of paper and again mutters something. I take the piece of A4 and begin to read the child-like writing:
"MY HUSBAND HAS DIED.
I NEED HELP.
FOOD AND MONEY.
PLEASE HELP ME."
I judged her at first when she stood in my way and held out her hand. It's not uncommon for that to happen, but the note added something. It gave her a background. A story; something which we don't normally get to see. We don't go around with a piece of a paper around our necks displaying our dramas for all to read.
I wonder what kind of effect it would have if we did?
So I'm staring at this lady and I'm feeling really connected to her.
We looked into oneanother's eyes for about ten seconds without saying a word. Ten seconds doesn't seem a lot, but I assure you, it is, especially when it's someone you've never met before.
When was the last time you looked into another's eyes for more than five seconds? After about three it gets scary. They say the eyes are the doorways to the soul . . . what are we hiding?
I put my hand in my pocket and gave her all the money I had. It wasn't much. About a fiver in coins. She expressed her gratitude by bowing her head slightly and muttering something else I didn't quite understand. I'm sure it was a thank you, but it could've easily been, 'You tight wedge'.
She walked on holding her piece of paper as it blowed in the wind.
I couldn't get her out of my mind.
Was she sincere?
Had I just fallen for a scam?
When I got home I explained to one of my flatmates (there are 9 of them) what had happened and he said, 'She probably can't speak a word of English, but the guy who she works for probably can.'
I don't think I'll ever find out if her drama, her story, was legit or not.
I don't think I care, to be honest.
I did what was right for me, given the circumstances. My intention to help was honest and came from a compassionate place, even if I only gave her my loose change.
I wonder where she is now . . .