Remember His Face
After crossing paths with a homeless man, a chance conversation leaves us both changed forever.
Intro- Cori Birce
You're listening to seven minute stories with Aaron Calafato. This episode: Remember his face.
Story – Aaron Calafato
I was downtown and I was getting something to eat at a noodle bar. And when I walked out there was, I think, it was a homeless person asking for money and he asked for money and food and said: I'm hungry or do you have any spare change for me to get a cup of coffee?
And I remember as a child seeing someone's face like that for the first time. And I if you look at a child as they react to someone in need, they're horrified by it. They're shaken by it and they should be. And to a certain degree I'm shaken by it too. But over time and over time when you live in an urban area or you see it more and more and more it still shakes me. But I can figure out a way to push through it. I can look at the horizon and I can hear their voice in my ear saying: Hey please can I have some to eat sir? Or please I'm hungry or something..
And I keep walking past. Or when I'm walking past I'll be talking with a friend and I just make sure and focus on that friend when I'm walking past someone asking me something.just so I don't have to look over at them and I don't think I want to look at them because I don't want to look at their face. And I sometimes don't want to see the absolute struggle or humiliation that they're facing, either by some fault of their own or no fault of their own just the circumstance. And I.. there are times where I do that. Or I ignore it. And for the most part though I try, so hard, to always just look at the person and if I have something to give I give and if I don't I don't.
But I think the important thing for me at least for my own self is to look at that person and give an answer and to not be afraid to look at a person. I think we get we're afraid to look at people. And so when this guy asked me for food or coffee afterwards. I looked at him I said hey, you know I don't have any money right now. He said: no problem Have a blessed. And I walk away and I remember I had this bottle of water with me and I turned around they said hey: I have this water and I don't know if that's cool, and he goes: Yeah I'm thirsty.
He took it. He immediately cracks it open. He starts drinking. I mean really really drinking. He's really thirsty. And I'm looking at him and I and I realize and he's looking at me and he realizes something too. And were just sitting there, these two people the middle of this busy street in front of this noodle bar. And I realize I'm just one degree removed from his situation. I mean his situation is my situation any human being can experience need. We all experience need and hunger and desperation and being embarrassed or being any of those things. I mean to think that I am somehow so far removed that it's just something that other people deal with.
No. I mean having an eviction notice on my door, I know I was one step away from that. And I was one bad decision. One bad investment if I had any money. I'm one bad parent or one bad geographical location. Or one bad revolution. Or one bad influence. Or one bad person who hurt me or abused me or took advantage of me. One bad fiscal choice of my own or someone else.
I'm one step away from his situation and his situation is a universal situation. It is not something we are divorced from or I am divorced from. And so when I look at this person drinking this water and I know what it's like to be fucking thirsty, I can identify with that moment and I know I'm gonna a walk away to a better situation than he is going to walk to. And I'm not even walking. I'm walking to a parking garage and driving away and I'm not going to feel guilty for the rest of my life about that but I'm gonna feel in that moment that I at least should take a look at this person's face. I can see something familiar.
And I can see me. And he can see him, in me. And he's having a bottle of water and we're having a conversation and he says to me: you know what it's like for someone to look through you? And I said you know I've been to a couple of dinner parties. I've been to a couple of cocktail parties and they just sort of look around or look through me because I'm not famous. I was joking and I said, but no, I I have not. I kind of know but I don't know what you're talking about specifically.
I've never had anybody just look through me. And he goes, Well, have you ever looked having a look at you like you're a piece of trash. He said I'm, I'm serious. There are people that look at me like am I am a piece of trash. In the gutter with that water and sewage flowing into the sewer and I'm just a part of that...and I said: I don't know what that is.
I don't know what that must feel like but I'm sorry. He goes: No, I'm sorry, I just can't imagine looking at another person that way. And he said especially experiencing this now. When I get out of this.
He said. I will never ever... and if I do.
He said I'll make every effort in my fuckin life to look at another human being in their face and acknowledge that they exist. In any form. Privileged or not. They just deserve to be looked at and acknowledged.. Even for a second. He said: I appreciate you talking with me and I appreciate this bottle of water. I said: this is nothing and it's no problem. And I said, you you'll get there. He goes: well maybe or maybe not. And we just sat there, kind of both looking out at the world and I remember his face. I remember his face....
Outro – Cori Birce
I hope you enjoyed the episode. A lot of people have been coming up to Aaron and I at parties sending emails and calling to tell us how much they loved the podcast and ask when the next episodes coming out. A great way to stay connected is to visit the Web site 7minutestoriespod.com . You can also subscribe on Apple podcasts. And while you're there. Let more people know what you think about Aaron and his storytelling by rating and leaving a review. Lastly, the biggest compliment you can give us is to share your favorite episode with friends on social media.
Thanks again for listening.