Tales from the CRV, Random Acts of Kind-Jess

Yesterday was Friday. This was not just any ordinary Friday, this was the Friday before winter break. This Friday means only one thing… SUGAR-HIGH in elementary school. The kids were all a buzz with sucralose, glucose, and god knows what other chemicals coursing through their veins. I was offered cookies, candy, donut holes, and some birthday cupcakes. I’ve been subbing in a third grade classroom, for a teacher friend who is out on medical leave, during enrichment. The classroom teacher gave me strict instructions to “give the kids the healthy snacks, please don’t leave them in the room to rot all weekend.” I let the students have some free time, most of them chose to play on their chrome books, but a few requested to play mancala with me. I complimented them on their choice to play real life interaction games, one girl shrugged and said, “Miss Hayden, we like playing with you, it’s fun”.  Be still my heart! In that moment I realized how much I miss daily interaction with kids in a classroom setting. My job as a school psychologist allows me to have interaction with students, but usually only in one-on-one interactions. These kids are very special to me, if only I didn’t have to test and write so many reports I could do more with them… but I digress.. moving forward.

Before we knew it the announcements came on to dismiss students and we hurried to pack up. I practically shoved food into their already stuffed bags, but what kid wants an apple when they have a bag full of high fructose corn syrup???? The students were adamant that their teacher wanted all the food GONE. I couldn’t justify throwing it away, so I gathered up the bags of pretzels, raisins, apples, oranges, and containers of carrots and threw them in a large canvas tote-reserved for snack pick up (Zito-I have your bag). I lugged the tote outside with me while I walked the children to their buses. I went back to my suite after the last student boarded the bus and found one last suitemate straggler. I told her about the bag of food and asked if she’d like to bring any home because I really can’t eat all of this! Oranges, raisins, craisins, and pretzels are not on my preferred body building food list! She gasped at the sight and came up with a great idea.

“I know, let’s give some of it to the guys on the corner, you pass them everyday too right??”

YES! She was on to something! I always feel badly passing them by with nothing to give-I plan my meals and eat them all. We divvied up the food into plastic bags, said our good byes, and lugged our computers, files, and the food out to our cars.  I didn’t run into any of the guys on the corner on my way home, but thought I might when I went to the gym. I was feeling so good about this act of kind-Jess, visions of a gracious smiley guy on the corner filled my head with happy thoughts. I hurriedly got ready and headed for treadmill heaven-or hell (you choose) armed with my bag of goodies. I was dismayed to see the temperatures dropping and the snow flurrying.. there was no way the guy would be on the corner tonight. I slowly approached his usual haunt and was surprised to see the faint glow of his cigarette through the haze of the cloudy snow.

The excitement brewing inside, I quickly rolled down the window and chirped, “I brought you some food!!!” He looked at me and said nothing. The cigarette glowed bright as he inhaled slowly. I repeated, “I brought you some food! Carrots, apples, and oranges!”

He slowly walked over to my CRV and said, “I can’t eat that sh*t.”

My stomach dropped and the birds that were chirping in my mind took a nose dive, plummeting to the ground. “Uh, you can’t eat them? I’m sorry.” I replied.

He got closer and said, “Don’t be sorry, you’re being nice. I have no teeth They pulled all my teeth. I’m out here begging for money so I can get some new teeth put in!” I noticed this as he was talking.

“STUPID, STUPD, STUPID”, I thought. “How did you not think of these things when choosing the foods to give away.”

“Oh, oh my, I’m sorry! I didn’t know, ” I said in a remorseful tone. At that moment a horn honked and I realized the light had been green for quite some time. I started rolling the window up and he looked up, tapped on the window, and said, “Don’t be sorry, that was really nice of you..”

#kindnessFAIL

I drove away with mixed emotions. On one hand I was laughing hysterically because of my oversight and on the other hand I was feeling even more badly for this man on the corner with no teeth. I consider myself so lucky and am grateful for all I’ve been afforded in life. I may not be rich, but I have had rich experiences and have had the good fortune to be loved and supported by my family and friends. In the end, that’s really what is MOST important.

If you’re interested in joining the Rochester Kindness Movement please check out ROCking in Rochester. Some of the kindest people in the Rochester, NY area. I’m so lucky to know the founder of this group, she has a heart of gold and I love her for all of who she is and for what she does. Here’s a recent post:

ROCKING in Rochester was born 3 years ago today. It occurred one cold evening when the hopes from my heart officially joined the visions in my mind. The question rattled around for me: Was it possible to encourage individuals to be more compassionate and thoughtful to others on a local level so we could really feel the impact? 3 years later with1600 + rocking fans and numerous kindness stories we are doing it. KINDNESS MATTERS

A few afterthoughts:

A) I realize this post might evoke some different feelings and emotions-maybe some anger and maybe some joy? I too had some mixed feelings about my encounter-please read on:

B) Why is this guy smoking if he needs teeth and is trying to save money? Answer: Addiction, Mental Illness, and a big FAT who are you to judge-you’ve had a pretty nice life-this guy is on the corner in the freezing cold begging for money-I have skills, he may not.. etc. We are not all created equal and we are not all from the same background. There is such a thing as privilege and it hurts us to think about it because we don’t want it to be there… but it’s there and should be considered. I work with students who are starting a few miles behind those of their suburban peers. They have to have the skills and the talent to catch up-an extremely difficult task when resources are few. I try to keep this in mind as much as possible.

C) Next time I will be more cognizant of the items I choose to give.

D) Dental work is expensive, how’s he gonna come up with a few thousand dollars???? That’s a lot! I’m lucky to have insurance for these things-but even my insurance is terrible and a simple filling costs a couple hundred dollars.