Doing outreach is one of my favorite parts of working with OIM. I love walking the familiar outreach route, meeting new people, catching up with friends, and helping out whenever possible.
But there are some days that I am feeling so exhausted that outreach is the last thing that I want to be doing. Not long ago, I was having one of those days. It had been a really rough week, full of disappointments and frustrating interactions with people. I was feeling physically and emotionally drained and was starting to lose my faith in humanity.
Even though I was feeling discouraged, I put on a big fake smile and went out for outreach (after all, who needs a sad outreach worker?). I could see Danny panhandling up ahead and was happy to see him. I usually run into him a few times a week and I always enjoy our conversations. As I approached him and said hello, he said “Are you okay Moira?” I was surprised, because I thought I was being pretty convincing. I smiled, and assured him I was fine. He said “Really? Your eyes look sad today. They don’t have their usual sparkle.” It was all I could do not to start crying right there, to release all of that buried emotion. But I held it together and continued to chat with him. As we were talking, a young woman stopped by and said hello and gave Danny a gift card. Danny told me that the woman drops off a gift card every month. I said “Well that’s really nice to see. I was beginning to lose faith in people.” To which Danny replied “Girl, people are mostly really good. There are a few twits out there, but just a few. If you are ever feeling like you are losing faith in people, you come and sit with me. By the end of the day you will see that most of the people walking by are really good.”
I had expected Danny to be bitter and angry with people. But instead, he was able to see the good in everyone. Now when I am losing faith in people, I remember what Danny told me and realize that I am probably not looking hard enough.