A Man Named Lawrence
--by Madeline F., posted Oct 31, 2008
It was at two in the morning, and we had just finished clubbing it up at a Persian Club and were trying to find our way back to Berkeley. There must have been this look of fear on our faces and in our voices as we were trying to figure out where the AC Transit stop was. As we nervously chattered amongst ourselves, a homeless man a little ways away yelled at us, “What you lookin’ for?” Ignoring him, our voices trying to figure out what to do got a little more frantic. “Excuse me!, what are you looking for? Powell is up one street.”
I finally said, after much internal debating, “No, we’re looking for the AC transit stop.” “Ohh, I thought you was looking for Powell. Hey Jim,” he said to his friend, “could you watch ma stuff while I show these kids to the bus stop?” His stuff, consisting of a shopping cart filled with who knows what, covered in a blanket. We followed him, listening to his kind funny banter, and I was wondering just how lucky we could get. Lawrence was our tour guide down the streets of San Francisco. He led, as we tried to inconspicuously gather up some money to give him.
Walking parallel to some city workers who were washing down the streets, we exclaimed how we were amazed that anyone actually washed the streets. Lawrence told us about how they would spray the homeless people if they were “in the way”. And, this wasn’t just any hose, it was a high powered washer. The image in my mind was awful. These were human beings, after all, not cattle or objects.
This man, full of kindness and humor had gotten drenched in the middle of the freezing night, and instead of yelling at the workers, he asked them, “How would you feel if your father or grandfather was treated you like this?” He then told us his logic, “Yeah, aint no use cussin’ them out, 'cause they just get more angry. Gotta try to get ‘um in the heart.”
How true! The world could be so different if only we put our anger aside, lowered our voices, and tried to speak to people’s hearts.
He delivered us safely to the stop, all the while talking about anything and everything. We thanked him whole-heartedly, and told him that we could have never found the place on our own. He agreed with a smile and said, "I have a son your age, and I hope that if he was lost, someone will stop to help him." Something about hearing that from a homeless hit us pretty deep.
We gave him the little money we had pooled together. He kindly accepted our gift, but really took no notice of it as if the money was inconsequential. He then assured us that there would be “no trouble” for us from any of the other homeless around. “Just say yous know Lawrence. They’s know me and there be no trouble for you, promise. Oh, and I be just over there keeping an eye on yous. Have a great night.”
We thanked him again and again, wishing him a good weekend as he walked back down the street.
Not only did Lawrence break down all the stereotypes of fear and mis-trust in our minds, he helped us find our way, in more ways than one. Feeling silly for fearing him, I now can imagine him in normal clean clothes being the most presentable and personable man. More important than even all that, this man taught us kindness. There was nothing we could really do to repay him. The only thing I can hope to do, no matter how simple it may sound, is help other people out. Perhaps one of these days it will be his son that I'll be helping out.
This lyn says nd means a lot to me.
Very inspirational story. It warms my heart to hear that there are such kind people out there.
My name is orsi by the way. I work on a project called battlefront and we have an activist called tom robbins who is running a campaign called random acts of kindness. Feel free to have a look at his campaign page http://battlefront. Co. Uk/campaign/random-acts-of-kindness/
I wish you all the best, and thanks for sharing your story.