northwest 23rd avenue

I Gave a Man My Sandwich on 23rd Avenue

So, I was walking down 23rd Avenue last Saturday. It was such a nice evening, after a nice dinner, and 23rd Avenue is one of the nicest avenues you can walk on—with lots of ice cream, shopping bags, music, and toasts. People celebrating the good life.

Then, there are those who are different. Those who aren’t celebrating the good life.

They’re dirty, hungry, and they don’t smell like food scents mixed with laundry detergent and cologne or perfume. They smell different.

Anyway we were walking home after our nice meal of oysters, craft beer, and incredible sandwiches. As usual, I couldn’t finish the other half of meal. It was a Cubano, a well-executed one that made you want to stuff your face, even though you knew you would pay for it later.

That evening I decided to hang onto it and take it home. But my sandwich never made it home with us, as it found a new home. A much better one.

matching couple

There was an old man on 23rd Avenue, homeless and alone. He didn’t ask for anything—he didn’t beg—he was just minding his own business. He was arranging his colorful blankets just so on the sidewalk, with a serene smile on his face. In a way, he seemed happier than the parade of privilege passing him by.

We passed him, and I stopped and turned around. I asked Mr H: “Can I give him my sandwich?”

He said: “If you want to.”

Without a word, he knew that was all I wanted as I approached the old man on 23rd. To be honest, I’ve never gone up to a homeless person and sparked a conversation. And for a moment, I didn’t know what to say.

I decided small talk was completely ridiculous and pushed my sandwich forward. “Do you want my sandwich?”

Looking back, I hate that I called it mine…my sandwich. It was a sandwich, or this sandwich.

writing blog on paper

The man struggled to speak. He stared at the container, then at my face several times, with his mouth hanging open. Finally, he said: “I’m a diabetic. There are some meats I can’t eat. I can’t—I can’t eat red meat. Is there…?”

“Just pork. This one’s okay.”

His eyes lit up as he grabbed the container and tore into it. He gazed at the sandwich like he still didn’t believe it was in his hands. He looked straight into my eyes and said: “Thank you, bless you.”

I squeezed his shoulder, my eyes filled to the brim with tears, and said…actually, I’m not sure what I said. Goodbye? Enjoy? Take care? Have a good night? Once again, the small talk seemed totally effing ridiculous. And so, we kept walking down 23rd Avenue.

I’m not expecting an award here by sharing this story. We didn’t do much, but we did something. We could feel it, and we will never forget it.

Because there has been so much crap happening in the world, it’s more important than ever to notices the opportunities to change that. We can’t change the presidential candidates or the terrorist attacks. Hell, we can’t really change ourselves.

What we can do is seize that glimmer, that moment that holds us and gives us a choice, to keep walking down the same avenue or stop and turn around.

38 thoughts on “I Gave a Man My Sandwich on 23rd Avenue

  1. No act of kindness however small is ever wasted and sometimes you’ll never know what an impact you have made on someone’s life. Keep going, love x x

  2. Your story brings tears to my eyes, Britt. I feel the same way when I go out of my way to take action on behalf of the screwed-up environment, or to protect endangered species by simply raising awareness. I don’t do it for the congrats; I do it because that’s what human beings are able to do. We have the capability to help someone or something in need.

    Yesterday I saved a dragonfly from the lake. It had been knocked out of the air by our roughhousing on our inner tube and lay in the water, struggling. I scooped it out of the water, waited for it to dry its wings, and off it flew. One little dragonfly. It made me feel good. I can imagine how you felt when you helped that man. You’re a good egg. 😉

    1. Human beings are capable of some pretty amazing stuff if we put our hearts into it! You do amazing work with the environment and animals, honey. I greatly respect all that you do!

      Awww…a dragonfly success story! I’m always the “bug rescuer” because I try to save all living creatures. It’s a sickness, but a good one. 😉

  3. Britt by stopping and acknowledging this man you did more good than just giving him a sandwich you made him feel human and not invisible. Talking, and looking him in the eye is the greater gift and if we all shared a sandwich and a chat with those less fortunate the world would be a better place.

  4. This is a great story. I love when people do things just cause. No worry about a “Thank you” or any other adulation. Keep doing good things 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by! My apologies for a delayed response, but I’ve been out of the country.

      Doing things just because is something I have been trying to do more of this year. It’s a good goal!

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