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  • Writer's pictureAmber Shockley

Fortune Cookies and Compassion

I'm not a country girl, but I'm not exactly a city girl, either. One of the hardest things about living near Charlotte, NC has been the frequent confrontation with poverty that comes when living in highly populated areas.

There are intersections I pass regularly where, more often than not, people stand with cardboard signs, asking for help.

I don't want to be someone who rolls my windows up and looks away, sealed off in the protection and comfort of my car.

And anxiety disorder(s).

We're in a pandemic, and masks are hit or miss.

And what if someone is dangerous, what if they becomes physically aggressive?

As a Myers-Briggs ISFJ and an Enneagram 6, I think of these things in the forefront of my mind.

Still...The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I'm not a wealthy woman. Not by any means. I wouldn't be able to afford much of a cash impact, given the number and frequency of people I pass that need help.

I have a plan. More on that in a later post, perhaps.

Today, I caught a red light when trying to exit onto the interstate.

A tall man with sandy brown hair was walking the media with a sign. The sign said he was a vet. He had a knapsack a few feet away.

My heart started beating fast. I decided I was going to give him the last bit of cash I had on me - a five dollar bill.

He'd turned his back to the first few cars and was walking slowly down the median away from me.

I put on my mask, took my five out of my coin purse, rolled down my window and called out "Sir?"

The man turned around and walked toward me, saying an eager "God Bless you, ma'am." When I handed him the five, a slip of paper fell and went swiftly twirling onto the road.

He asked "What was that?" and bent down.

I knew exactly what it was, and a little pang of loss hit me as I watched the paper flutter away.

"A fortune cookie fortune."

"Oh!" The man chuckled. It was good to see him smile, a personable man, not a subservient beggar invoking God for his benefactor.

He bent down and picked up the paper.

When he stood, I told him that my father was a vet, and the man blessed him too, and asked me to thank him for his service.

He was already walking back toward the safety of the median as cars rolled forward through the light that had switched to green.

Now, I'm worried about what that fortune said. I have no idea. I keep them regardless of what they predict, stash them in tucked away places. I hope he got a good fortune. I hope it was fitting and meaningful to him.

I'm also worried about what else I might've inadvertently slipped him along with the fiver.

I don't know why I told the man that my father was vet. I don't have any special sense of my father's service. I don't feel like the daughter of a veteran (whatever that feels like) although, technically I am.

I think I just wanted to connect him beyond handing him money.

I worry that I gave the message that identifying himself as a veteran was the only thing that let me see his worth and evoked my compassion.

So many worries, don't you see?

I am trying to remember the man's chuckle , the soft way he took the money from my hand.

I'm trying to fill my life with more compassion, action to weigh out the worry.


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