Will Work For Food

Have you ever been rejected? Particularly when you were showing vulnerability in situations of extreme need? In this article I describe how a homeless mans vulnerability taught me some invaluable life lessons.


Will Work For Food

9:30 am and my doorbell rings several times. I wasn't expecting company. Strange. I get up to answer and I see a tall dark male in the window. I rack my brain "who is this?” I hesitate then answer.

This man looked very distraught, his demeanour is less than presentable nor approachable but he's rang my doorbell and has something to say.

My eyes skim behind him and I see a shopping cart on the curb filled with what appears to be garbage to me. Closer inspection I see it's things that could be recycled and may have some minuscule value.

"Would you like your driveway shovelled mam?" He struggles to stand still, his voice a little uncertain. I am nervous and I say "oh no thank you" and off he goes; back to his shopping cart and on to the next house.

It's 10:30am and I'm sitting in my warm house cuddled under a blanket, sipping my hot coffee and I cannot stop thinking of this man as I watch the snow fall and the wind blow outside my picture window.

He made me nervous, I felt slightly unsafe and so I dismissed him and sent him on his way. But I still cannot stop feeling that I made the wrong decision.

I live in the suburbs and it is a little uncommon to see someone in such a state in my neighbourhood. But here's the thing, just because I don't see it on the regular doesn't mean that people aren't struggling here. There are no boundaries for tough times and suffering.

The more I think of him the more I realize; It was 9:30 am in the middle of a snow storm and this man was pushing a shopping cart down unplowed walkways and roads going door to door offering to shovel driveways with no set price; only what you think he is worth. I wonder how many of my neighbours saw his worth?

It's incredible to see how extreme need evokes such admirable drive. Have you tried to push a shopping cart in the snow before? I've done it and I tell you I wouldn't wish that misery on anyone. Who knows how far this man has walked to fill his cart with our trash.

Him coming to my door put me out of my comfort zone. It was so unexpected to be reminded of that struggle in my cozy suburban neighbourhood. I had the luxury to dismiss his vulnerability for my own cowardly needs.

I am ashamed to tell you that after he left I caught myself thinking “Oh my God, as if this guy came to my door" "I should warn my neighbours not to answer their door" "I shouldn't have even answered the door he could have been real dangerous". I even called my fiancee to complain about it but he didn't answer and so I retreated to my couch and was forced to think about what had just transpired.

I started to think about the "normal" people in my life who are deemed "presentable and approachable" yet have zero drive to find a job. I think about people who do have a job and take it for granted, I think about the people who have pretty much everything they will ever need and yet it is not enough and they are completely miserable.

And then I think of this man. His needs are so high that he is willing to do what 99% of the population would not do. He is willing to be VULNERABLE, he is willing to ask complete strangers for help and be faced with countless rejection in hopes that someone tosses him a couple bucks. He didn't ask me for money, he didn't ask me for food, all he asked me for was an opportunity to prove his worth in hopes that I may compensate him a little for his efforts as I saw fit. I rejected him thereby deeming him worthless to me.

How many of you let simple rejection affect you? I know I do. It sends me into tears most times and prevents me from putting myself out there further. Rejection can cut real real deep at times. Could you put yourself out there in a time of desperation and hear hundreds of people say you're worthless and reject your basic needs?

Someone sees a homeless person begging for change and they assume they will use the money for drugs or alcohol instead of food. And you know, you may be right sometimes. But look at it this way.. If our desperation was so high, if our lives were in complete shambles and we had to be extremely vulnerable to mass rejection, I think we too may fall into addiction of some sort to numb that pain of worthlessness.

It takes extreme courage and guts to ask for help. It's real unfortunate that we see this as a weakness; a non admirable quality. It's so unfortunate that we judge and make assumptions based on someone's appearance.

If this man was well kept and "presentable" I more than likely would have thrown him $20 to shovel my driveway because lord knows I couldn't be bothered to do it myself.

I don't know this man's story. In a moment of haste I made assumptions, I judged and had already closed the door to his needs before I heard what he had to say.

I am ashamed. I wish I could track him down and tell him how I feel of him now. I wish I could offer him a warm meal and some money to tie him over. I wish I could tell him how inspiring he really is and how he is worth something in this world. I wish I can tell him how much of an asshole I really was and how he didn't deserve that.

If you look hard enough there is so much beauty in the unexpected. Some of the most "ugly" situations can have one of the most wonderful sentiments behind it. 

If this man, or any other comes to your door trying to work for some form of payment, please learn from my mistake. Tell him how among the countless assholes there are beautiful people who see a human being struggling and admires his will to be vulnerable in his time of need! Perhaps give him a warm meal, he needs some gloves and a warm hat, give him a little money and then shovel the driveway with him so you can hear his story. Give him a chance because deep down I think that's what he really needs, actually I think that's all could ever need; a chance to be heard and deemed valuable in our society. 

Author: Natasha Hockley Website: https://www.facebook.com/Natasha-Hockley-401432113382214/ All Social Media: @TashaHockley