Fire Drill

The following is an article that I wrote a couple of years ago about an experience that I had with giving a simple pair of gloves to a homeless man. 

Fire Drill

 So today we had a fire drill. We weren’t supposed to know it was today, but it leaked. So there was the all-day anticipation of a few minutes freedom from our desks. When would it be? Everyone kept getting up and looking around and waiting for that magic moment. It rather resembled children waiting for recess.

 And then it came…

That abrupt, shrill, notice-me-now sound of the alarm, the muffled sound of security over the loudspeaker directing traffic, the rustling of coats and the locking of desks that followed… Everyone shuffled into the cramped stairwell, hundreds of people winding down and around, trying to make it out of a twenty-two floor building.

Around me, I heard everything from talking, laughing and complaining, to plans for dinner, the weekend and the holidays. There was an excitement in the air.

Fire Drills at our building ARE fun. The vendors hired by the building come and set up and provide free treats and goodies. You never know what they will have. As I settled into my group, I watched the people. There were bright, laughing people and overworked and tired people, all were talking and laughing to their coworkers. There were the glorious colors of office attire. The myriad of bright colors seen around me, the smiling and laughing faces, and the freshness of the air all seemed so wonderful under the awesome blue sky.

Out of the corner of my eye, a man shuffled in the background that caught my attention. It was an older weather-worn and life-tired man. He was wearing a wrinkled jacket and torn shorts. I had to smile when I noticed that he was wearing one white and one black sock. He looked like he had just hit the jackpot. He shuffled behind the crowd clutching hot cocoa and cookies provided by the vendors. As he sat himself down on the nearest curb, he scooted his food as close to him as he could. He then was watching the same scene I had been observing. He too was taking in the bright colors and listening to the people worried about their children’s soccer game and where to eat Thanksgiving dinner. His body looked worn and his eyes looked tired. But you could just feel his appreciation for the warm drink. He sipped it slowly and enjoyed the aroma, completely in the moment and savoring this gift he had received. I watched people walking all around him, practically stepping over him. Of the hundreds of people surrounding him not many even acknowledged him, even though he was in the middle of us. He sat there so completely alone in the middle of hundreds of people.

As I made my way over too him I felt eyes on me. When I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him how he was doing, he looked up and looked relieved to have someone notice him. In his eyes I saw bad decisions and regret, but I also saw a valuable human being who feels most of the love is gone from this world. We talked for a minute and I wished him a happy holiday, the whole time with my hand resting on his shoulder. As I walked away, I remembered that on the way out of the door this morning I was compelled to turn back and grab a pair of gloves off the floor, even though I never wear gloves. They happened to be in the coat that I wore outside, even though it was 60 degrees.

I made my way back to him and asked if he had any warm clothing. He said that what he had on was all that he had. I asked him if he wanted some gloves and his eyes lit up and he gratefully reached for them. He didn’t care they might be snug on him. He also didn’t care that they were pink. In that moment I felt the compassion well up in my body for this person and thankfulness to the Lord for my many blessings. When he held my hand and thanked me and said “God Bless You” my eyes welled up with tears and all the things that I worried and complained about just didn’t matter for that moment. A smile permeated my whole being. In that moment, with his rough, weather-worn hands holding mine I realized that this man reminded me of how precious life is. If only we could savor the small things in our lives like this man savored his cocoa, our problems would seem a lot less overwhelming. I don’t think that this gentleman will ever know how much he made my day!

Especially in these tough times let’s try to spend more time reaching out to others. Instead of being a collection of individuals only concerned about “me” and “mine”, we need to band together as a country. Take some time to listen and trust the things God tries to tell and show us! Reach out to someone or hug someone today that you usually wouldn’t. Eat and drink slowly and take the time to savor it. It is the little moments that make up a life… I just had to share, thank you for reading. God Bless!

Written November 2008 by Jaime F.

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One response to “Fire Drill

  1. I still tear up every time I read this story. I love you, my defender of the downtrodden, sweet daughter!

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