“As I walked over to the corner where she sat, several patrons gave me the side-eye.
There were plenty of available seats and tables to choose from, but the wooden chair beside her called to me.
After I placed my drink and muffin on the table, I noticed a pile of filthy, worn bags filled with her belongings on the counter next to her.
A large piece of folded cardboard peeked out from the top of the bag on the floor next to her seat.
Almost immediately after I sat down, she asked me a question.
‘Have you seen any phone books anywhere?’
She was missing half her front teeth, and her white and gray hair was spiky and disheveled.
Despite her tattered appearance, her eyes appeared vibrant and sober.
‘Hmmm…it sure has been a while. I can’t say I’ve seen any recently.’
She shifted her lips to the left and to the right as she appeared to ponder what I said, ‘Wouldn’t AT&T have them? Is that what they call them now? Do you know where they are? Can you look them up on your phone?’
‘I think you’re right. Pacific Bell made them and they’re now AT&T, ‘ I confirmed. ‘I’ll look up their closest location on my phone.’
By this point, nearly everyone in the cafe is turned towards her and I listening to our exchange.
I hear a young girl seated at the table to my left mention to her friend: ‘that girl’s going to wish she didn’t sit there by that nasty homeless chick.’
I pull up Google and start searching for the closest AT&T office. Now, I’m quite sure they don’t have the phone book at their stores, and I mention that to her, but she still insists she wants the address.
‘If you need to look through the phone book, I think the libraries carry them.’
She shudders and pulls up the nylon blanket draped over her legs so that it’s now covering her middle.
‘Can you give me the address to the closest library?’
I take a swig of my coffee and start typing out the request into my search bar. A short moment later, I find the address to a library close by.
‘Here’s one at Larkin and Hyde across from the Civic Center. It closes at 8 PM.’
She pulls out a mini notepad and jots down the information.
‘Great. Thank you for helping me, young lady.’ Her eyes glistened as she shot me an appreciative nod.
‘No problem. Give yourself time to explore that one. It’s a beautiful library with amazing architecture.’
‘That’s wonderful,’ she said. ‘I love libraries.’
She returned to her notepad and started scribbling curlicues, squares, and other shapes.
While she worked on her drawings, I looked out the window at the people scurrying here and there.
The young, the old, the rich, the destitute, the Christians, the Muslims, they all weaved together on the city’s sidewalks.
I contemplated how unfortunate it is that we have gotten so afraid to connect with others who look a little different, act a little different, dress a little different, talk a little different, live a little different, or worship a little different.
We must remember that we are all united in humanity.
The teenager with the mohawk, tattooed arms, and pierced lip.
The exotic woman wearing the black hijab and abaya.
The elderly man pacing slowly and muttering to himself.
The young lady in the wheelchair at the crosswalk.
The homeless woman seeking shelter and comfort in the coffee shop.
We must continue to build unity in the human family while honoring its diversity.
Today, I challenge you to connect with someone who appears to be unlike you.
Share a smile.
Engage in conversation.
Lend a hand.
Because no matter our perceived differences, we are all worthy of dignity, love, and connection.
And, you just might find you’re a lot more alike than you think.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brandi Wiatrak of The Cultured Baby. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTubefor our best videos.
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