The passengers deboarded the plane and I hurried to the women's restroom. The moment I entered, a middle-aged woman slumped on a couch asked, "Do you have any food?" I shook my head and entered an empty stall. After using the bathroom, I washed my hands and remembered that I had some change in my pocket.
I approached the woman and handed her five dollars. "I don't have much, but hopefully this will help."
She jumped to her feet, a wide grin spread across her face. Her wrinkled clothing hung loosely on her tiny frame. "Thank you so, so much. God bless you."
"You're welcome." I smiled.
"My name is Shawna. Airport security lets me sleep in here. Don't know where I'd go if they didn't. Thank you so much. God bless you. Please keep me in your prayers."
I hugged her tight. Tears streamed down her face, washing away caked on grime.
"Life's so hard. But I'm trying to do right..." My heart melted as her face crumbled. She told me how she gave up her parental rights and turned her children over to the state. How every time she passes the nearby church, Miss Lucy always says hello and allows her to take a nap on the lawn; the pastor, however, has never said a word to her. That her sister verbally attacks her but never offers any form of help.
Two ladies entered the bathroom, their hair, make-up and clothes looking as if they've walked off the Basketball Wives reality show. "Hey ladies, looking good," Shawna said. Neither responded, nor looked in her direction, but continued primping in the mirror. Shawna and I locked eyes and shared a knowing look.
Those ladies were blind to Shawna's very existence and choose to not see what I saw...a fellow human being struggling in life, just wanting to be acknowledged and loved like anyone else.
How many times have you walked past a homeless person or someone begging for money or food? After moving to DC, I became immune to the vast numbers and walked past without any acknowledgement, as if they were never there. Not just one can afford to give all those in need money, but how much does a smile cost? We're so quick to judge, but you may never know the rest of someone's story unless you say hello.
Smile at a stranger,