Today I wanted to share with you my recent encounter on the NYC subway. Although it has nothing to do with health or nutrition - it has to do with 'soul food' - which is in my opinion, is just as important as physical health.
So I was on the subway and, like many times before, a marginal character of sorts starts talking to everyone on the subway cart, explaining their situation and at the end, asking for monetary help. Now, many of the times, I do give change. Sometimes I don't. It really depends on what's in my pocket to be honest. And of course, the cynics that we all are, we think about how these people are possibly on drugs, homeless and have other addiction issues - which may be supported by us giving them money. I understand that, and I think about that too.
But this time was different. It was a woman who stated she was living in a shelter and was pregnant. She did look pregnant (or could have been obese - it was difficult to tell) but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She asked for food, water or change. Of course I had heard the pregnancy story before. Or the lady passing through the subway with a baby strapped around her, asking for money. And its heart-wrenching every single time. I had no food on me (my first preference to give) so instead I gave her $1. I had just come from a day of puttering around the city and was heading home to my nice warm apartment to make steak for dinner. In the big picutre, $1 isn't much at all.
However, after I gave it, a man sitting across from me mumbled to the lady beside him "yeah she'll be pregnant two years from now too." He muttered a few more things along the same lines and shook his head. Clearly he didn't believe a word she said and clearly he didn't agree with my actions.
And that's what struck me - more than her or her story. It was the bigger picture - the absolute loss of hope and faith in humanity. Of course we all can be cynics, but there is also a chance that she was telling the truth. Regardless, isn't that her karma to deal with? For most of us, a dollar isn't much - but to someone - whether she was telling the truth or not, it could mean a great deal. I'm not saying that we should just open our pockets and give without thinking about people's intentions, but I do believe in humanity and the power of giving. And despite the momentary shock I felt after hearing that man's words, the feeling I had of helping someone else who, regardless of truth - was obviously in a position in life where she had to beg for money on the subways of New York City - was more than any dollar could ever buy.