She Would Accept a Smile

Walking from A to B and then back to A can give you two different perspectives. All the places that were on the right on the trip out would be on the left for the trip back.  You would see the right hand sides of store windows before the left.  This would be completely opposite for the trip back.  I suppose driving would do the same thing, but somehow I doubt it, hoping that you’re keeping your eyes on the road.

This all sounds pretty obvious, but Today’s Perfect Moment happened because of this.

My bank is a farther walk than most people would like to undertake on their break, and would give people ample justification to use their interact card or cash back options and suffer whatever fees were associated with that. However, this combination of financial frugality and the need for exercise make this journey seem worthwhile to me.  Besides, there are lots of construction projects underway along the route.  I am still have that little boy inside who likes to peer at construction projects.

After crossing the biggest intersection on the route, I passed what could be described as a person down on their luck. I noticed it was a young woman and in the current “fashion” was not audibly begging for money, but had a written sign in front of her.  Owing to crowds and my own (perhaps selfish) concerns, I didn’t get a good look at the sign.  I assumed it was a plea for money.

On my way back, owing to thinner crowds and the tendency to walk to the left of people, I got a better look at the sign as I walked past. It read

  • Unemployed mother
  • Will take anything
  • Spare Change
  • Food
  • Baby Clothes
  • Toys
  • A Smile

The first two things on the list made very little impact on me. I have given food to people on the streets, but I don’t think I have ever given money.  Maybe I have become numbed.  The last three, and specifically the last one rocked me a little.  Obviously, I would have to be a cold hearted bastard not to warm to the idea of giving a child some clothes or a toy.  After writing about my experiences in the toy store, I could really understand those things.  The smile, though, really said something.  Maybe that’s now on all the signs that I often fail to read, but it changed my perception of this person.  The line was brilliant. That one line told me that this person wanted to be looked at and acknowledged, even if you weren’t going to give some material goods.  This person, who was probably ignored and avoided or worse( snarled and gawked at) by people, was inviting someone to look.

I did look back and smile, but I can’t be sure she caught it or that it made anyone except myself feel better. Maybe that was the point. All I know is that I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

This may not sound like Today’s Perfect Moment, but I hope you will understand why I think it was. Being forced to challenge your assumptions, to confront your prejudices and biases so poignantly might be uncomfortable, but might also be neceesary.

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About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, help, sadness, smile, Toronto, Yonge and Eglinton and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to She Would Accept a Smile

  1. Craig Allen says:

    Really well written Anthony but as I have found out in the past this subject is of no interest to a lot of people.
    At Christmas I did some charity work nothing spectacular just gathering groceries for my local homeless shelter. I posted on Facebook asking if people had five minutes of their own time​ to do something similar in their neighbourhood. I had seven likes and three people commented out of over 270 friends and family. On Christmas day I put a photo of my dinner on Facebook and got over fifty likes and loads of comments.
    Maybe just a sign of the times we live in Anthony or just that people prefer to look at food.

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