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Mount Creative Writers

What goes around comes around

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(4/2014) I was sitting on the DC metro headed to my job. It was a Monday, and it was raining. It was “one of those days.” My eyes began to wander.

I noticed the young, mid-30’s looking woman with bleach blonde hair and blue eyes. She was dressed in a black suit with heels and a black bag. Most definitely a lawyer. It was hard not to smell the strong stench behind me. I looked at the reflection of the window instead of turning my head back to see who it was. There, sinking into the blue seat, was a large man with a white beard. He seemed to be wearing a construction uniform. His eyes in the reflection seemed tired and droopy. He was definitely working through the night.

“Next stop, Farragut North,” the metro driver announced. I rose from my seat, attempting to not lose my balance and fall down. We came to an abrupt halt. The doors opened and people fled on by me like a race to the finish line. In this case, it was more like a race to the escalator.

I took a deep breath and stepped out of the metro. I walked confidently up the escalator and out into the rain. I had seven blocks to get to my first official job since I graduated from college. With each step I took, I heard my black Steve Madden heels hit the wet sidewalk. I walked with purpose. This was my day, I thought.

As I passed by a Starbucks on my way to work, I decided that I deserved to spend a little money on a small 12-ounce coffee. I was an official adult with a real job. Although I was living at home until I could afford to move out, I still felt different.
“Laura! Laura!” My name was yelled out. I was too busy fumbling in my purse to realize that my drink was ready. I quickly grabbed the small white cup off the counter and headed for the door. As I waited at the crosswalk outside of the Starbucks, I watched the crowd in front of me. Almost every person to the left and right of me was in a business suit. They all looked so serious and so purposeful. Was this how everyone in the business world looked? Serious? Mission-guided? Where did all of these dressed up people work? Who were they? Engineers? Writers? Mathematicians? Politicians? Editors? Musicians? Artists? Fashion designers? Suddenly, a man caught my eye. No, he didn’t look like Brad Pitt. His occupation was something unlike the others. This man’s appearance was extremely noticeable to me, but to others he seemed invisible.

His name was Stewart. He had on a raggedy gray winter jacket. Underneath it looked like a red shirt. Stewart wore a fishing hat to cover his head, but it was soaked from the rain. His curly beard reached half way down to his chest. As I observed from afar, he seemed to be smiling at everyone walking by him. However, no one paid any attention.

The light turned green, and I quickly stepped into the street with the rest of the busy crowd. Again, I felt as if it was a race to see who could get to work the fastest. I approached Stewart. The sign with his name on it was very visible. As I got closer, I realized that this man was older than me and desperately in need of a haircut. Behind his shaking wet legs were three bags. I assumed by his bags and his sign that read, “Anything will help and God Bless you,” that he was homeless. I turned to him and smiled.

“Hey, Stewart!” I said with excitement as if he were a longtime friend. It took him a little bit to respond.

“Oh hey, miss!” he said with a big smile on his face. His smile was most memorable in that moment. He was missing more than a few teeth, but it was one of the most genuine smiles I have ever seen.

“This rain never seems to stop, huh?” I said jokingly to him.

“No miss, it never really does.”

Stewart was shaking, and he seemed to be calling out for someone to just simply notice him. I took out a pen from my purse and wrote a message on the cup.

“Here is my drink. I’m not sure if you like coffee, but it is nice and hot,” I said, handing him my drink.

Stewart stood there in shock. It seemed as though he was confused and unsure of what to do. Should I accept this act of kindness? Should I take the coffee?

“Thanks, miss.”

He took the cup of coffee, and his smile once again stretched across his face. He never really said how much he appreciated it, but I could tell by his smile that words didn’t need to be spoken. I responded with a smile and headed onward.

When I looked down at my watch and noticed that it was a few minutes later than I had planned on being at work, I didn’t even feel a sense of urgency. As everyone was busy beginning their daily work lives, I started mine by giving Stewart a cup of coffee and a good morning smile. He taught me that there is time in our busy days to reach out to others. I turned my head and looked over my shoulder. Stewart was looking right at me. I nodded my head and waved goodbye. I’ll always remember his smile.

The streets are always busy. Everyone is always in a hurry to get somewhere. I remember what those days used to be like. Now I’m older and trying to get back on my feet. I’m trying to return to the busy life. Many of the busiest people in the world may look at me and think I’m strange, but I would like to get back to working one day.

I’ve been homeless for two years now, and it has been a tough journey. However, I went to college a long time ago so I have the ability to read and write, which allows me to release a lot of my thoughts. I’ve learned a lot about myself on the streets. But, I’ve also learned a lot about others. I’m seeing that it is really hard to connect with people when you are almost invisible. I just keep telling myself that if only people knew my heart and how nice of a person I am, maybe things would be different. I’ve learned that friendship and interactions with others are so important. Even if you are homeless.

I know that people look at me and see that I have nothing, but I look at some of them and see a calling for love, a helping hand, and conversation. We are all human. We all thrive on kindness from others. However, it is the act of actually giving that I think is the best part. I spotted a young man on his cell phone in the rain. He looked young, fit and born to be leader. Maybe he was a doctor.

He stood tall and proud. He had a nice suit on and looked extremely put together. There was something off though. His suit was soaked. He had a despaired look on his face. He stood on the corner near my three bags. I looked closer and it looked like he was crying. No, not this guy. Not the doctor. I approached him, and he saw me coming closer. Most people would back up quickly when they see my long beard, but he didn’t move away. He seemed too tied up in his phone conversation to even notice me.

I stood there waiting until he was done. He looked at me like I was an alien.

“Sir, are you okay?” I asked confidently, expecting him to ignore me. He suddenly burst into tears.

I couldn’t tell if he was afraid or concerned that I was going to steal something from him. With no words coming from his mouth, I frantically took the small black umbrella out from my coat pocket. I reached out my arm to him and he took the umbrella. He quickly gestured to give me back my umbrella. I had another one in my bag so I answered back with a gentle hand motion saying no thank you.

“Thank you sir,” he said while stretching out his other arm for a handshake.

I shook his firm hand with the best handshake that I had. He didn’t say anything, but he smiled and turned the other way. I hope the umbrella serves him well.

I could not believe what just happened. The terrible realization that I lost my wallet. I must have left it at the Starbucks. I was on my way back to the metro after work and I realized that I didn’t have my metro card. I frantically waited at the metro station. I began to tell the guy in charge what was going on when someone behind me started speaking.

“I’ll pay for her ticket,” the voice behind me said.

I looked and there stood a tall, almost 6-foot man with a black umbrella and cash in hand. He gave the money to the ticket counter, and I was handed a ticket.

“Thank you so much! I can’t thank you enough,” I said. He looked at me and nodded.

“My pleasure,” he said.

I walked to the metro platform and followed in the man’s footsteps. He stood on the opposite platform as me. The train pulled up and when it sped away, he was no longer standing there, but bright blue words engraved on the old tile walls of the metro stuck out like a sore thumb.

“Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

I smiled a big grin and thought to myself, I wonder what Stewart thought when I wrote this on his Starbucks cup this morning.

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