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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Rachel

How hard can it be to show a stranger a moment of kindness?

Michael David Crawford, Consulting Software Engineer
mdcrawford@gmail.com

January 16, 2006

Copyright © 2006 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

Andre The Aging Troubador was at his usual spot outside the London Drug on Granville downtown as I walked in to pick up my prescription. He usually plays Cat Stevens, but this time I heard him sing "Oh, my hands! They are so cold!"

Next I walked up to FutureShop to pick up some CD jewel cases and ink for my CD label printer. I brought it back with me after my first trip home, but it was out of ink. It was hard to fit the new ink in the budget, but Bonita was OK with it. "It would mean so much to me to give people printed CDs," I told Bonita. "I hate giving away the ones labeled with a Sharpie."

As I left FutureShop, I saw a young woman sitting on the ground in the cold, holding a small cardboard sign:

Please help money or food.

I couldn't just walk by.


Without saying anything I turned and headed south on Granville. Halfway down the block on the right there is a pizza shop. I ordered two slices.

"Two-fifty please," said the woman.

I gave her three and said "Keep the change."

"Thank you so very much!" she said. The first time I was in there I tipped her seventy-five cents, and I thought she was going to burst into tears.

"It's gotta be hard," I replied, "Selling pizza for a buck and a quarter a slice." I choked on my words. I had to be careful or I was going to lose it again.

She smiled sadly. "Yes," she said.

I walked back up to Robson where the young woman was sitting. "Here, I brought you some pizza."

She smiled and said "Thank you!" as she took it from me.

"My name is Mike," I said.

"Rachel," she replied.

"Good luck to you, Rachel," I said. Then I turned and walked up the street.

I have often wondered if I wouldn't make more of a difference if I volunteered to work in a soup kitchen. But I don't think so. While I can only help a few, I think I can make more of a difference simply by acknowledging as people worthy of having names, those who would otherwise be so unfortunate as to be completely anonymous in this city.

Everyone, every human being no matter how debased, was once someone's little boy or girl. Everyone was a kid who wondered what they might be when they grew up - a fireman? An astronaut? No, a homeless woman, a crack addict, a crazy man or a hooker.

But I have a problem: there are too many of them, and sometimes when I contemplate that fact, it makes me burst into tears, as now, when I write this.

But Vancouver is a city with millions of people! How hard could it be for everyone in the city to show a little kindness to a stranger who's down on their luck, to buy them a bite to eat, or just to ask their name?

But still, all but a few just walk on by.

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