The Homeless Guy, The Emergency Brake & The Brand New Boots!
I'm going to tell you something that I always tell my students never to tell anyone about. I'm going to tell you about the giving of some money to someone in need. The reason I always say "never ever tell anyone when you contribute to someone" is because it's for you.
When you tell other people you gave to charity or you did something amazing for a cause, you have to question why you need to tell? Does it make you feel significant? (You are anyway!) Does it get you likes on Facebook? = Significance + Love & Connection (You are liked/loved anyway!)
Contributing to others is solely to help them and it also makes you feel incredible if you keep it to yourself...
So why am I telling you? In the hope that you use what I'm about to tell you when you have a shit day, so listen up.
It's Saturday, our college Christmas party is about to happen. I've bought a particularly fresh suit in a pink and wine colour with dicky bow, hanky, all the trimmings AND a brand new pair of chalky, off white suede boots. They look lush, I feel lush, let's go to London!
I head off early to meet students in Covent Garden, the tube is rammed with stressed out, fed up, hard working people. I need to stop at Tottenham Court Road to do something first and as I'm walking down the street it is so busy that we seem to be walking as if we are in a chain gang (like our ankles are chained together) and then bump, bump the guy behind is rushing but keeps kicking the heels of my new boots. I side step and let him go... bump, bump now a woman in a rush seems to be trying to get into my boots with me as she too dirties up my heels. I start to do something I haven't done for a long time and I always warn people against doing, I start to notice the 'unthoughtful' people in the world.
As I get back on the tube, a woman spins round with her backpack on and lamps me with it. I've always wondered how you can put something on your back that extends your back by a foot in length and forget it's there! I ignore her and sit down. A guy standing next to where I'm sitting is chatting to his friend. He starts to sway with the train and as he does his backpack gets closer and closer to entering my mouth. I look across to the lady who is telling her child off.
"Sit down!" she says but her 2 year old is defiant, "No!" she replies waving her finger at her mother. Then as the child ignores everything her mum says and starts to really play up, she climbs onto the seat and lifts the flap to the emergency brake handle!
"Leave it!" her mum instructs, the flap goes down, she then lifts the flap up and down constantly ignoring her mum till she manages to get her hand on the red handle of the emergency brake. Mum is by this point looking the other way and I am stressing!
Now I've never seen the handle pulled down but in the movies the train brakes hard and everyone falls over, is this going to happen? Will people get hurt? I have to speak up and tell her mother. Luckily she disciplines her child while carefully pulling her hand off and then spends the next 5 minutes staring at me like I am the devil incarnate.
As I'm walking up the steps on the way out of the tube thinking about all of the people I have encountered only thinking about themselves I hear a voice...
"Now that is a fantastic suit!" I look across to see a fellow traveller smiling at me.
"Thanks my friend I appreciate that" I say.
He gave me that for nothing, he didn't have to but he gave me a compliment and it lifted me. As I walk to meet my friends I hear another voice...
"Now that is a marvellous suit!" And there he is, sat on a coat on the floor. Long dreadlocks, beard, disheveled and clearly homeless.
"Thanks" I said as I passed him and then I stopped.
Here am I going to a party in my new boots and suit and he's sat on the floor. I love contributing to others but I often forget. You just coast along with your life and every now and again you need to check yourself. I turned back and hand him a crisp note telling him "that compliment will go a long way" and he then laughs and starts to kiss the note which brought a tear to my eye. We wish each other a happy Xmas and I head off.
The night is a massive success and even though I danced all night my chalk boots survive unscathed barring a few marks at the heels. I say my goodbyes and leave and as I do a guy walks out from a door way clearly drunker than me and treads right on the toe of my left foot. I decide he must work on an oil rig or feed pigs in a mud bath because you couldn't get them dirtier if you tried.
"Oh man you fucked my new boots" I cry.
"Sorry" he says.
"Merry Christmas" I say thinking of my homeless friend.
The moral of this tale is this. If you feel pissed off at the world, stop and notice the good people, they are everywhere and even the stressed, angry, unthoughtful ones have a story too. And in these moments, find someone and give them something, a compliment, some time, a gift. Also if you are in a place of lack be it with friendships, money, resources, go contribute to someone else and don't tell a soul because trust me the universe will pay you back.
And lastly, note to self: Don't wear chalky, off white, suede boots in December John okay?