Compassion by The Glass

How a Lowly paid worker tickled my compassion bone and taught me a lesson—My door was ajar for some reason and as often happens in ours and many neighborhoods, a man whose dark skin and features told me his ancestors were Indians from South America, was distributing restaurant ads and take out menus. Upon seeing me at my computer, he said, “Aqua, aqua.” “Do you want water?” I asked in English, not quite sure I ought to answer. There are many such workers, and never before had anyone asked for water. Why was he? “Si,” he answered. It was a small thing. I went to the refrigerator to get him a tall glass of water. As I handed it to him, he tried to hand me a folded bill, presumably a dollar. I told him no of course all the while feeling less than the proverbial two cents. Something about his action, about seeing that he didn’t even expect a glass of water for nothing, about his generosity, his honesty, brought me back to a more realistic perspective. He drank his water avidly, all in a gulp almost, and handed me the glass back while I realized how small minded I had been.
Big city living with all its risks and dangers makes us forget simple human impulses, of asking, giving, sharing. I had been suspicious first, instead of being open-hearted first. The other lesson was an equal tug at my conscience, how quick I was to forget how hard the lives of some workers are. Walking door to door delivering ads, at best being paid minimum wage, is a merciless, difficult work. And when I think of the thousands of such men and women whose work is just as merciless in whatever way, then I am truly humbled.