Today I was drawn to a different shopping center than I usually go to. There was a little café in the back run by a single man at a deli counter. I ordered a reuben panini. It took a long while for him to collect all the ingredients. He didn’t seem inspired. I wondered why I was there. Instead of grilling a nice product, he slathered a cold sandwich together. I wanted to leave but didn’t want to upset him, so I went through the motions. He oiled up a George Foreman like grill and put the sandwich in it to grill it.
The sandwich was huge. I took it over to a little nook of tables to eat it. It felt like being at the airport. There was so one else there. A couple bites into it, a middle-aged African-American woman came into the nook with her packages. She sat behind me.
I am really bothered when people do not connect with each other when they are present in the same time and space. So, I turned to her and asked her if she wanted half of my sandwich. She was surprised and wondered why I did not just take it home. I explained that I would prefer her company and wanted her to have it. I was pleasantly surprised when she not only accepted my sandwich but also sat at the table with me.
Her name was Linda. She worked part-time as an instructor for those studying to get their GED. She said she had to do what she could to get by. I admired her for taking on that role. She commented a few times on how delicious the sandwich was. She said it hit the spot. She was there to pick up medicine for one of her dogs. I remember the days of traveling by bus. Linda was a sweet reminder how rewarding it is to finally get home after adding a couple more hours on your daily chores by traveling by bus.
I admired her receptiveness and was grateful to her for keeping company with me. She asked me if I had the Lord. I answered her with a question. I asked her if she thought it was possible for someone to be kind without the Lord. That was all she needed to hear.
We hugged as we parted. It felt so incredibly wonderful to break through that restriction of not talking to strangers. Where did that come from? Isn’t it amazing how strangers come together in a disaster? Why do we have to wait for tragedy to connect to others? I challenge everyone to break through the false façade of indifference to those they don’t know. We are all in this together. Share a sandwich, give a penny, bestow a kindness. It is more rewarding than I can possibly convey.
Giving kindness to a stranger breaks through the conditioning of centuries. That is how empowering it is. I say, Go for it!