When Art, a long time friend of OIM arrived at the office one morning, his famous smile was missing.
“You okay?” I asked.
“You’ll never believe what happened. I was sitting in my spot panning, doing my thing. You know me, not bothering anybody, and then this one worker comes out of the store and yells at me ‘Get out of here! We don’t want $!&# outside our door!’ I told him not to yell, that’d I’d leave, but he just kept yelling ‘We don’t want $!&# in front of our store!’ …..He called me $!&#. How can someone do that?”
To say I was disgusted by this story would be an understatement. I wanted to go to the store, find the employee who had dehumanized my friend and give him a piece of my mind.
Instead I sat with Art and we had coffee together.
Just then, Brian entered the office. Brian is a street-friend who has severe Tourettes Syndrome, so out of nowhere he may start to yell or kick or even hit himself repeatedly. It can be quite alarming to witness. As the three of us chatted together, Brian started to have one of his Tourettes attacks. He was stomping his feet and hitting himself, all the while apologizing to us through his screams. He was clearly embarrassed.
Art very gently said, “It’s okay man, it’s not your fault. Don’t mind us, you just do what you need to do. It’s okay.”
I sat in awe of how Art, someone who had just been treated so inhumanely by the store worker, offered such love and compassion to Brian. It amazes me that so often our street-friends are able to comfort each other, despite the fact that they are often in need of comfort themselves.
How often do we feel insulted, cheated or hated, and we let that hate affect how we treat others? But maybe we should take a lesson from Art, and choose love instead.