He wasn't too steady, and not so warmly dressed. His head covered with a cap, not a warm winter hat, and he had fingerless gloves, exposing the visibly chapped skin on his hands. He was begging for change. Said he wanted to buy something to eat.
Smart old man, if you ask me. His perch, the entrance to the uptown subway on Park Avenue. Also, today was his lucky day.
Over the past few months, my life has been a series of performing random-acts-of- kindness for complete strangers. Recently, I've just felt compelled.
Some may call me a random-acts sniper, catching folks in need in the cross-hairs of my humanistic aim. Today, it was just too damn cold, and this man clearly needed help.
I was on my way into Starbucks, anyway.
Seven inches of snow had already fallen, covering the ground in New York City.
Followed by freezing rain, whipping winds, and unbearable black slush everywhere. Regular folks needed to pack an extra pair of socks to keep the wet away from their feet. Did I mention that it was just too damn cold?
Once inside the way-over-priced coffee shop where I like to get my caffeine fix, I purchased two cups of hot, fresh coffee. Plus, I picked up a warm croissant, usually a splurge. Except, there were no pastries in my future. Today, this one wasn't for me.
After paying, I bundled up in my down jacket, which doubles for a sleeping bag, my flappy eared fleece lined hat, and gloves.
I walked back out to the man, who had been begging for money and said, "Here's something warm to drink and some food to eat." He put the just warmed croissant into his jacket pocket.
He looked at me strangely, as I held out the coffee cup to him. At first reluctant to take it, saying, "I'm just cold and hungry."
I said, "Take the coffee it's warm, it's for you."
He reached out his shaking free hand and grabbed the cup, as he balanced the other on his cane.
He told me he wanted a warm place to sit. I told him to go inside the Starbucks, just about 30 feet away. He seemed baffled.
I thought, maybe they've turned him away in the past? So, I said, "Go inside, you are a paying customer now, it's warm and you'll be able to find a seat."
Then, I descended the subway stairs and headed home.
Please try to pay it forward, folks. It is cold outside, and not everyone is lucky or lucid enough to have, or seek shelter.
But we can all do our part, in making the world a kinder place to live -
One cup of coffee at a time.