“I feel bad eating out here.” I looked over to see what D.J. was talking about. I had a view of boutiques, he had a view of a homeless man lying on the sidewalk, next to a boutique. ” I just feel bad that we’re about to eat and he’s lying right next to you.” “We can go inside if you want” I said. “It’s kind of cold anyway.” We decided to stay outside. We spent the afternoon walking around Central Park and went to eat when I said I was going to faint if I didn’t find fries soon. I’m dramatic and he’s a good friend (who is always hungry) so off we went to a place called “Burgers and Shakes”. The restaurant got an A for food and a D for creativity. Really? That’s the name of your restaurant?
D.J. listened to me talk about my friends from home, my Halloween costume, and things that really get on my nerves. Like I said, he’s a good friend. He was listening and responding, but his eyes kept going to the man on the sidewalk. “Don’t you ever wonder how people get to that point?” he asked. “Like, what happened that led him there? At what point? Or do you ever look up and ask how you got here?” I said I absolutely did. Life is crazy like that. You never know what’s going to happen. For better or worse.
I told D.J. not to feel guilty. And really, he shouldn’t. Oprah said something once that really resonated with me. Her friend asked her if she felt guilty leaving Africa to go sleep in a bed when the kids she met had nothing. She said, “If I was sleeping on a dirt floor would that make their lives better? No….I feel like there is a responsibility that comes with it. And I share more of what I have.”
Now I know I’m reaching here. College student looking at a man on the sidewalk vs. Oprah looking at children in Africa, but it’s all relative and I promise I’m taking this somewhere. The word responsibility struck me. Don’t apologize for what you have, use what you have to help others. It might not be money, it might be time. And it’s good to notice things like that. Who wants to be desensitized to poverty? It’s okay to feel guilty. Just make sure you feel responsible too. That’s a point we should all want to get to.