life, motherhood, parenting, travel

On power cords and the fine line between You and Me

Excuse me.
Excuse me.
Excuse me.
Excuse me.

These were the agitated pleas of the homeless man, elderly and stooped in his wheelchair, as he called out to a service man at the park we just walked over to, to take in the weather and a cup of coffee. The service man shook his head and looked away just as an Asian woman meditating moments earlier stood up and walked over. We presumed she approached to help him only to see her yank her purse from a nearby ledge and scurry to meditate at a further part of the park. The man let out a small smile as he watched her leave before calling out again his pleas now more desperate as he begged the service man to notice him.

Can I help you? K asked, standing up and walking over to him.
My wheelchair’s almost dead. I need recharge it and I can’t reach the power outlet.

I watched as K did the simple act of bending down to plug in the cord.

Thank you, he said his voice shook with emotion. K told him there was no need for any gratitude for the simple act of plugging a cord into an electrical outlet. Thank you he called out to us again as we stood to leave after finishing our drinks. God bless you for helping me. 

What’s on your mind? I asked K as we left, his expression more solemn than I’m accustomed to.

It’s just– he shook his head. That man had a father. That man is someone’s son.

I realize we are all someone’s child. And I realize that if I let my heart crack open and bleed like it does right now over moments like this that I will not be able to function in this world full of heartache and sadness as much as its filled with sunflowers and daffodils– but there are some moments like watching tears of gratitude from a man old enough to be your grandfather because you plugged in a cord– that make your heart hurt. That make you pull your eighteen month old child close to your chest because that elderly man in this San Francisco park? He was someone’s little boy too.

18 thoughts on “On power cords and the fine line between You and Me”

  1. Not to sentimentalize poverty or homelessness, but here in SF the homeless serve as a daily reminder of the abundance we have been given, and the abundance with which we must give back every day. A beautiful and moving post.


  2. beautiful post.

    'i realized we are all someone's child'. indeed. this reminded me of a forwarded letter i recently read, supposedly from an old man in a mental health facility in australia. he wrote similar phrases, 'i too was a son, a lover, a parent'.

    the plight of the elderly moves me more, perhaps because i find it such a let down from an awesome and rich life that they might have lived. it is so sad to then be left to the mercies of an ailing body, mind or finances.

    i live in india at present. poverty and homelessness surrounds me. for society at large, it is normal, like the streets filled with potholes or the garbage decaying everywhere. i have learnt to steel myself before stepping out of my front door, or i simply couldn't function.


  3. When I wen to school in New York years ago, I was stunned to be confronted by so many people begging for money, usually in various states of appalling conditions. Even coming from a big city, I was stunned and quickly ran out of spare change. Day after day of that, and soon I stopped giving out my change for all but the most pathetic. And then I noticed that people gave without even looking them in the eye. And some just never looked at all. Sometimes, it shakes me to the core when I stop and think that same thought – that is someone's son/father/ brother/daughter/mother/child. And it isn't money they need.


  4. Its nice that you are organically plugged in, like they say about saving energy through the electric grid. But wanting to become politically active is another story.

    That said, I don't want everyone linked up to me in the wrong way either. We are all individuals as you mentioned. Its more like, do I want to give away information freely and without a really sensible reason? Probably not, if we still consider the Constitution to be important.


  5. thanks for all your comments everyone! Mystic OFCOURSE you can cross-post, thank you! Ayesha, you wrote me an e-mail didn't you? I'm really sorry I've fallen very behind 😦


  6. I came to your blog from Mystic's cross quoting.
    The man's mobility depended on that “plug-it-in” gesture which is just a small thing for usual mobile normal persons but for him it is HUGE. Before I retired I was chief of spinal cord injury service (Veterans)and developed a feeling for paralysed people I looked after. Paralysed Vet of America (PVA) gave me special retirement plaque which I treasure more than other things I got in my life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s