Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Kindness of Strange People

So, a while back, I was walking down the street in a rougher neighbourhood in Vancouver, with my kids in the stroller, and someone grabbed my shoulder. I jumped and turned with a big scowl on my face, only to find myself accepting a fallen mitten from a scruffy homeless man.

And then, less than a week later, I was standing at the corner of Granville and Drake, waiting for the light to change. A twitchy, bedraggled woman came towards me, babbling and gesticulating, clearly high on something, and I tried really hard not to notice her. As she drew near, I heard her say, "you have beautiful children."

Man, I have got to be less cynical and standoffish. But I don't carry change, and I get so tired of smiling wanly to the panhandlers and rattling off an apologetic "sorryIdonthaveanychange." Especially when I'm walking into the liquor store, or the local boutique grocery store. What's worse, patronizingly refusing to help them, or just ignoring them altogether?

Anyway, having street people be kind to me was a sharp reminder that I should, in fact, be kinder to them.

Then Again . . .

It is telling that my brother, who appears to draw strange people the same way that I do, told me his New Year's Resolution was "to be less approachable."