Stories of Kindness from Around the World

The Missing Cheese Bun Feeds Two Souls

--by BigBearHugs, posted Nov 10, 2011

Any passenger on the subway who caught a glimpse of me may have already thought that I was strange as I was smiling while reading Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground. In particular this one gentleman sitting diagonal from me was staring at me, at the cheese bun on the floor in front of me, and then back at me. “Next stop, St. Patrick Station” – my stop was quickly coming up.  I had minutes to either take the cheese bun, which nobody else was claiming (as a passenger probably dropped it by mistake and got off at a previous stop), or leave it there and hope that it didn’t go to waste.

In those few minutes I felt my pride getting in the way. “What would other people on this subway think of me if I took the cheese bun? Would they think that I wanted it for myself? Would they think that I was poor and hungry? Would they think that I’m stealing?”

The ignorant thing to do was say “yes” to any of those self-imposed questions, which would only justify my ego and not put myself in an uncomfortable position. But then I’d get off the subway, walk a block up the street to my office, get settled at my desk, and despite feeling comfortable, warm, and being well-fed myself for the whole day, there would be a weight of guilt and regret weighing on my consciousness.  

My thoughts were pushing me towards pride and ignorance when the truth was evident: this missing cheese bun is a gift. For a homeless person who is hungry and cold in this morning’s -25 degree weather. For me to overcome a little bit of ego and pass along so much kindness that has been selflessly given to me. For both the homeless person and me to connect.  It was clear that the homeless person who would receive this cheese bun needed it just as much as I did.

I remembered Lila Watson’s words: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." 
Just as the doors opened at my stop I grabbed the cheese bun and exited the subway. It felt awesome and I didn’t care if people were looking or what they thought. Instead of going directly to my office as usual, I walked a few more blocks up to Queen’s Park where I have seen a homeless man sitting outside many times on my walk from the gym to my office. I always wanted to give him something. There he was this morning, wrapped in a sleeping bag, wearing a baseball cap with the word “Jesus” stitched on, and his makeshift cardboard sign propped up behind two Tim Horton’s cups for spare change.

I sat down to his level, smiled, and said good morning. He was receptive and just started talking. His name is Wayne and he’s from the east coast of Canada. He looked clean but very cold as his cheeks and nose were red. When I asked him if he knows about Hope Shelter five minutes away on College Street, he cringed and began to describe the shelter situation to me – how unsanitary they are, how there are so many drug addicts there, and how the beds and services are horrible. Like many homeless people, he prefers being on the street. He has been sober and clean for three years, sits alone on the streets to stay away from the addicts, and goes to a job training agency every afternoon. He is really trying to make a better life for himself and get off the street. 

Wayne told me how hundreds of people walk by him every morning without even glancing at him, as if he didn’t exist. He just wants to be acknowledged. He was thankful for the cheese bun that I gave him as he tucked it under his sleeping bag for later.  

I didn’t expect to receive anything from him but he told me something that I hadn’t realized I needed to hear. With his genuine and kind tone, he reassured me that even if I had nothing to give him, just say hello.

That really eased a lot of the stress that I often have when it comes to giving to others. Sometimes I don’t give anything because I don’t have spare change or food, and I just walk past homeless people with a look of longing…longing to give them something.

This morning Wayne reminded me that even when I don’t have money, even when I don’t have food, even when I don’t have anything, I can give myself. I can say hello in recognition that we exist together. So thank you, Wayne, for making me feel full, warm, and comfortable. The cheese bun pales in comparison to the fullness in my soul because of you. I hope you have a great day and I will definitely say hello next time! :)

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Readers Comments

harjie wrote: Wow, this story inspired me immensely! I cannot help but relate to the initial you until reading your experience helped me as much as it did to you!

"the cheese bun pales in comparison to the fullness in my soul because of you"

-lovely quote! Made me feel chills as if it were me in your place!

I'm so happy for you & thank you for sharing a wonderful story!
Raqui wrote: Very true hello is enough. Hugs
Earthymom33 wrote: Thank you for sharing such a great story! Yes, small gestures of kindness are powerful, wonderful gifts that we often underestimate.
Bluebell wrote: Thank you for showing us that there are angels among us, and they are real. Love and light and endless blessings, bluebell
RMB333 wrote: Beautiful story. Very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. We have so many 'waynes' here in my country. I shall make it a point just to 'acknowledge' when i am unable to help them otherwise! Immense blessings!
princessliz wrote: I shared this story at work. Its the reason why i'm more aware of the people on the streets-to say "hi" to them when walking by, whether or not i have something to give. Thanks so much for posting. This really had an impact on me.
Tigerlily wrote: Perfect! I shall never forget this life lesson.
stargirl wrote: Wow this is a wonderful story and it reminded me of thoes homeless people i pass sometimes and the words i leave unspoken and that felling that giving something would hep but i never knew what to give, this story has taught me that kindness is enough and frendship lies very close to the heart
sachineha wrote: Beautiful! I loved the way you reminded me that helping others is not just a kindness act but a liberating act - liberation from our own egos, our own gfears, our own discomfort, our own self created narrow boundaries. Thanks for sharing!
HappyDae wrote: Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. It is evident that wayne had been in your thoughts for some time. It was also evident that you wanted to reach out to him, but like so many of us, perhaps, not knowing what to do, or if your good intentions would be welcomed. You, out of the goodness of your heart, recognized the opportunity to reach out to this gentle person living on the streets. I believe most of us have felt the same as you when encountering a similar situation. (wanting to help and not sure how or perhaps not in a position to help at that time) waye brought it "home" to all of us that every person needs and wants to be recognized and validated (i. E: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of)~websters. I am so inspired by your actions and the message you bring to each of us as is illustrated in this quote:
"i like her because she smiles at me and means it. ~anonymous. Love and peace, happydae ( ps: if wayne is a veteran,in the usa, there is help for him by contacting the local veterans administration)

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