We've all heard the saying, "Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are." These words held true during a chance encounter outside of Costco that left a lasting impression on me.
As I exited Costco, a man sitting nearby asked if I could spare some money. Without hesitation, I offered to buy him some food instead. His name was Chris, and our brief conversation would soon reveal more than I expected.
"Pepperoni pizza?" Chris requested. We headed to the Costco food court kiosk, where I encouraged him to order anything he desired. To my surprise, he selected just one slice of pepperoni pizza. I couldn't help but wonder if that would be enough for a tall man like him.
As we waited for his food, Chris inquired about how to get to Denver. I offered to drive him to the nearby commuter train station, which he accepted with gratitude.
Throughout our interaction, Chris was polite and respectful, addressing me as "ma'am" with every response. As we conversed, I couldn't help but ask if he had a place to stay. He assured me he was staying with a friend.
During our encounter, fear never crossed my mind. My training from volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission guided me to offer assistance without giving money directly. It was a moment where empathy and compassion overruled any other emotions. Something in Chris's clear eyes and demeanor told me that he genuinely needed help, and there was no room for judgment.
At the train station, we parted ways, and I wished him well. As I drove home, I couldn't help but reflect on our encounter. While it may seem like the end of this story, it's more of a new beginning. It serves as a reminder of the ever-present need for empathy and compassion towards others, even when we may never know their full story.
This encounter with Chris has left a slice of his soul with me, a reminder of the power of a simple act of kindness. It's a story that will stay with me, inspiring me to extend compassion to others, regardless of their circumstances.