Friday, 27 July 2018

Late Night Sandwich

I worked at Samaritans on the late night 22.00 shift last night.
I wont have access to a car for the next three days so popped in to Sainsbury's before hand for weekend provisions,
I was hungry so as well as a watermelon, bread, milk, eggs,  chicken pieces,noodles and stir fry veg I bought some almost out of date ham and pitta bread, and made an impromptu sandwich as I drove.

In Rhyl ( a place that unfortunately resembles a war zone at the best of times) I spied a homeless guy in a shop doorway. It was late and he was settling down on a pile of something alongside a cheerful looking black Labrador type dog and as I was enjoying my sandwich of ham and pitta  so much I stopped on impulse and offered the rest to him with a slightly awkward " Can you two use these, Ive just made a sandwich"
The man smiled showing teeth like a row of bombed houses and took the bits gratefully
" The dog's been well fed today....but we thank you for your kindness" the man said
I was totally surprised....
His accent and speech was pure boarding school England's home counties
and he held out a dirty hand in thanks.
I shook it firmly.
and felt as humble as anyone could have possibly felt in a moment in a car in a back street of grotty Rhyl

57 comments:

  1. Human connections are what sustains us.

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  2. I don't usually stop at homeless people. in Sheffield I was sort of desensitised to them begging in the city centre. but this guy settling down to sleep in a side road in rhyl where no one was around moved me.... of course the dog helped .......( which is a subject in itself me thinks- would I have stopped if the smiling lab wasn't there?)
    perhaps not.......and that is another lesson I need of have learned

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    1. Odd timing - I rolled down my car window to give a man on a street corner holding a "homeless" sign all the change I had on me yesterday; I don't usually do that, either...

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  3. If only all of us would/could realize how spoiled we are and how little it requires to help someone just for a minute. I might be leery of giving money but I will always give food. A friend made up small bags of things people can use...toiletries, snacks, and a bottle of water. She keeps them in her car and hands them out freely to people...I do think this is better than money.

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    1. A great idea for all of us me thinks

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  4. Snap. Last week on my way to Lifeline I walked past a homeless guy sitting with his cardboard sign and hopeful hat. He had his dog with him. There was still frost on the ground, but he had put his dog on his coat 'she feels the cold'. So I went back inside and bought them both a sausage roll.

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    1. That is sad but so much good in it too.

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  5. Makes one wonder what kind up tumble the gent had on his way down. That encounter is the sort that often sticks with a person, until they find themselves looking at things that cause a slightly different path thereafter. At least that's been the case in my life... one unexpected sentence, time spent reflecting, a better understanding that's let more people matter in a way they hadn't before. Not that I changed my ideas of how much to give so much, as I became more open to listening and looking more closely. Some of my best teachers in life were down-trodden sorts, or had a low station in society. I owe them far more than I ever gave them.


    On a lighter note, how was your shift at work? -Mary

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  6. Oh John, what a heartwarming story .. In Buenos Aires there was an old woman who sat on a bench in the park every day , when it got dark, they all had to leave .. she was clean, very old, toothless and wrinkled but she had a bit of dignity about her.
    We would stop at the bakery on the way to the park for a roll to munch on while the dog sniffed every single inch of the park.
    I gave her one of the rolls one time and she accepted with the dignity of a fine old woman. From then on, we always bought more than we needed and gave the extras to her. It is so easy for us and means so much to them.

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  7. Acts of kindness are like Karma paid foward. NO person should feel the pangs of hunger.

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  8. That could be any of us, given the right (wrong) conditions. We all need to remember that.

    Maybe the dog didn't draw you to him as much as it simply make him more approachable?

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  9. I agree with what Jenny said. Here in America so many people are on the brink, about one months wages close, to lose their homes and be out on the street.
    Love that he made sure his gud dug was taken care of.

    cheers, parsnip

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  10. You're a good man, John.

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  11. Thank you for stopping and showing some kindness. Every little act of kindness matters, because kindness and caring make the world a little bit better and a lot more wonderful.

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    1. I agree with you, we (I) should be aware of it more often.

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  12. There are some lovely comments here about people offering help, so it just shows what kind hearted people there are in the world. I find it very upsetting and can't imagine what it would be like to not have a home. Surely in this day and age, this should never ever be the case. I also, on the other hand, sometimes feel a bit sceptical and wonder if they really are homeless. If they have genuinely lost their way in life (so easy sometimes for things to fall apart and you end up on a downward spiral), I feel so sorry and find it very upsetting. Surely this should not be happening in our society?? One thing's for sure, it puts things in to perspective and you should count your blessings.

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  13. Anonymous9:29 am

    I have lost count of the number of times I have been thanked for "Taking the time to talk to me," by an elderly person I have chatted to in a queue, sat on a bench or waiting at a bus stop. It is quietly heart-breaking how isolating loneliness can be. Tracy

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  14. This kind act reminds me of my grandmother. And that is a high compliment for you. She was the finest person, man or woman, that I have ever met.

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  15. John, have you seen this? If you want to have even more food for thought:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGt8Lnhgrz8

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  16. I want to be like you when I grow up. (Well, except the Scotch eggs.)

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  17. You kind and thoughtful man.

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  18. This is one of those "marvellous" posts which has me conflicted (ghastly word). Should I just pat you on the back or say what I'd like to say? Well, the dice usually, though not always, roll one way with me. So, I'll say it.

    I note "Sainsbury Basic" ham. At least it won't leave either you or the homeless short of water. Leaving quality aside, here is a thought on quantity:

    The problem with your and some of your readers' approach that if ten kind people pass your homeless and all of them offered food he/she would explode. There are only so many sandwiches one can eat per day. Giving money gives the homeless autonomy and freedom of choice to meet the individual's personal needs. And if I hear one more person say "yes, but they only spend it on alcohol or drugs" I'll ask those same people to show me their last month's till receipts.

    I do wish generousity - of both heart and purse, indeed making time to take an interest in the down and out's story - were more prevalent.

    U

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    1. Offering a sandwich is better than offering nothing. What do you contribute, Ursula?

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    2. What do I contribute? A lot, Ninaschen, a lot. Beyond the imagination of a sandwich.

      You didn't get my point. There are plenty of "kind" people about. They buy sandwiches and water, coffee, tea - my son tends to buy them a beer. But, and it's not funny though there is a ludicrous side to it, anyone can only EAT so much. In the meantime, these people need, I don't know, "stuff" like we all do. You know, sanitary ware for the women, toilet paper (gender neutral), pair of reading glasses (£1.00 at Poundland), underpants, socks, you name it ... plasters, a haircut, a shave, new shoes. Twenty "kind" sandwiches a day won't solve that, will it?

      People equate the plight of being homeless with hunger. No. Think again.

      U

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    3. U - You might think you are contributing but there all sorts of kinds of contributions .... in my opinion, you really could just keep yours to yourself .. I have come to learn over time here on this blog, that yours don't mean much and are rarely well meant.

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    4. Lisa R1:22 pm

      On the BBC news a couple of days ago they were interviewing homeless people on the street to see how they were coping with the heat. One guy who had been on the streets for years said that giving food and water is better than giving money.

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    5. That was really interesting Ursula.
      I used to believe in not giving money because it would only be spent on drink or drugs... and then I realised one day, that if I was on the streets, I expect I'd be looking for oblivion as well. Now I don't judge (about that, anyway).

      We have a big problem locally withe "pretend" homeless people. These people sped their days pretending, get aggressive with people who don't help (or those who offer food instead of money), and then get taxis to their homes locally, or back on the train, when they've done their days "work". It desensetises everyone else to genuinely homeless.

      I hadn't really thought about donations of something other than money or food, but your comment has given me something to consider - thank you.

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    6. Let's cut to the chase, Candice. You don't like me. That's fine. Doesn't devalue what I have to "contribute"; remember, we were talking about how best to help the downs and outs.

      Whilst John did his bit last night, spur of the moment, I was trying to shed a wider light on the plight of those who have nothing. But, yes, sure, as you say, I "could keep my contributions to myself" as they "are rarely well meant". Are you sure of your facts, Candice?

      U

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    7. I see both sides Ursula. There's been a call out down here in London from some charities for people to take additional care to make sure people who are living on the streets have enough to drink in this heatwave and well worth considering.

      But as you say food is perishable - and won't get you a night in a shelter. Money will.

      I don;t think there's anything wrong with being motivated by a desire to help and offering what you may have to hand - as John did.

      But perhaps we could all take a little more time and some extra consideration and think about asking what might help the person - at that particularly moment - rather than assuming.

      On a hot day that bottle of water or snack may be the most important thing on a cold night a couple of quid to buy warm food or help secure a place in a shelter might be more valuable. The only way we'll ever know is to ask first.

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    8. Witch Hazel, hi. Your first paragraph made me smile. When you think about it, how many of us - after a "hard day's work" collapse with a G&T, a cold beer or a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Maybe, not so much seeking "oblivion" as you say, just a bit of light relief. Yet, the tut tuting of society deny that to those who really could do with a bit of blending out reality.

      As an aside, an illustration, may it make you and everyone else smile. Some years ago I had just arrived in the city I now live in. Didn't know anyone, the Angel (that's my son) abroad, I suddenly found myself minus my wallet. No cash, no cards. Nada. Holy what's it. On a Saturday late afternoon. Brill. Anyway, never short of ideas I walked into one of the better hotels of said city and asked the Concierge for a fiver (till Monday), my passport by way of identity in hand. Concierges are normally paid for their services not asked for money. He looked my well dressed me up and down. And then came out with a classic which will stay with me forever: "You don't look like you'll be spending it on booze". With which words he gave me said fiver. Guess what. His words incensed me so much I bought myself a bottle of wine. Isla Negra. On special offer at Tesco. Well, I thought, that'll teach you to judge people. Not, of course, that it taught him anything till I could hardly tell him what I'd done when I returned his five pound note on Monday.

      As to imposters you refer to; Yes, there are those. And you get to recognize them. Not necessarily by them getting taxis home as you say, but their demeanour and body language.

      You see signs everywhere saying "don't give money to beggars". Bull to that. Give them money if you are inclined to help. Money gives the down and outer independence. Means to spend it how they see fit (see my earlier comment's examples). The idea that we can just live on air, sandwiches, water belies our own daily lives. Oh, for a bit of toothpaste.

      U

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    9. JR, yes, as you say "ask first". Or, don't ask, just hand over some cash and let that person enjoy what those of us with relative security take for granted. Namely, autonomy, making our own, private, decisions on what we need.

      U

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    10. May I remind all that this is my blog and lnot an open forum.

      I write the blog entry not to elicit praise or damnation, it was a merely an observation of something I did on the spur of the moment and one thing that was fairly out of character for me.

      I enjoyed my sandwich and spontainiously shared shared it.

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    11. And thank you for it... It's sometimes hard to tell that this is NOT an open forum. Uf!

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  19. We need more people like you,

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  20. Good man you are John . . .
    I like the thought of having a bottle of water, snack in the car,
    ready to hand over if needed . . .
    There is a corner of a busy road where I turn off toward home . . .
    a young man is often there . . . playing his guitar and dancing while he waits for someone to stop to give him some bills or coins. I am reluctant to be giving, when I see a cell phone sitting beside him on his stool . . . Maybe I need to rethink this and offer food . . .

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  21. Lovely of you, and as it was an impulsive act all the nicer.

    I still support Chris, our homeless friend in Llandudno. He's in my budget as a fiver a week ... the price of a Big Issue for me and a cup of tea and a sausage roll from the One Pound Bakery that he enjoys buying from for him. If I don't see him for a week or so he still gets his full accumulated amount. I'm pleased to say he's finally moved up the list of 'homeless people being helped' and could be off the streets soon 😀

    He hasn't got a dog ... but he loves ours to bits

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  22. Totally off-topic, may I offer something for a Friday laugh? Another blogger I follow shared this link today, and I thought of you, John, and your lovely real estate photos, as opposed to these awful but hilarious ones... http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

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  23. adrienne4:55 pm

    You're a good kind man John.
    Homeless numbers are increasing in my nearest city and some people on the streets are in a very bad way physically. How sad that in this day and age society seem to be sliding backwards.

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  24. I think when we are wounded ourselves we become more sensitive to those around us.

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    1. Very perceptive! I think you are right...

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  25. I rarely see homeless people as I don't go to the high street often here.On holiday there are several & if they have a dog I stop for a chat.If there is a shop nearby I buy a bag of treats for the dog & open it in front of the person and ask if I can offer them a treat first.I just leave them a pound or two as I was told to be aware it may not be used for food.They are usually very interesting.One man saisf his mate had been lucky & gone to live with a rich woman in France.He now had his dog. Another said his dog ate better than him x

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  26. Ooh, I love a good spat! Can't totally agree with U though. We do what we can on the spur of the moment, rather that stand and think what's best because of this or that. I think you did a lovely thing John, most people would have driven by.

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    1. What "spat", Jacqui? There was a (to my mind) interesting exchange of views. I'd say what I said and a few other in response, putting their own point, did "add value" to John's original post.

      Never mind. I have "learned" that a blog is not a "forum". Whatever that means. Which begs the question: What is blogging for?

      U

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    2. I'v read a few of your past comments on this blog Ursula, and it seems to me that you have a confrontational streak and you get 'spiky' when anyone disagrees with your opinion.

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  27. Lovely gesture John, I think some people should start their own blog.

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  28. It’s the spur of the moment acts of kindness that are given selfless and without thought. Hugs..Gabs

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  29. Anonymous8:50 pm

    Years ago, I would sometimes pass a one-legged homeless man in a wheelchair. One day I was walking into the office with a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies and I stopped and handed him a couple. When I came out at lunch, he was still there. I asked what he thought of the cookies and he said they needed chocolate chips. I agreed he was right. We'd talk occasionally.

    Years later I heard a story on the news about a couple of kids lighting a homeless amputee on fire for fun. It was Doug. He didn't make it. It broke my heart.

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    1. adrienne1:18 am

      I've recently seen a couple of amputees, young men who have the haggard look that is often the sign of addiction. I always think 'you were once a baby, a small child, with so much ahead of you' and silently mourn the loss of potential that could have been.

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  30. An act of kindness helps both the receiver and the giver.

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    ReplyDelete

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