So I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Albuquerque — a place called “Zendo” — and working on my laptop.
A woman walked in a few minutes ago, and she appeared to be homeless and disturbed. She was wearing a hospital gown with the back loosely tied and wore a pair of blue scrub pants on underneath. Her hair was in dreads.
“Can you give me food?” she asked loudly. “Can you give me water?”
Conversations stopped for a second and the shop briefly got quiet as people turned to look in the woman’s direction.
But it didn’t take long for people to react in a positive way.
The barista nodded, stopped what she was doing and poured the woman a cup of ice water. A customer walked over and put some change into the homeless woman’s hand. A second customer approached and, in a very comforting manner, asked what food the woman wanted.
“A sandwich,” the woman said loudly. She was confused.
“They don’t have sandwiches here,” the customer said gently. “Would you like a pastry?”
The woman said yes. It looked like the customer bought it for her, though I’m not sure.
After five minutes, the woman had a pastry and a cup of coffee with five yellow packets of sugar. She abruptly walked out the door, made a left turn and started wandering down the sidewalk into the Albuquerque sunshine.
The customer who bought the pastry swept up the crumbs left behind and threw them away. The barista cleaned some of the coffee spilled by the woman when she took a sip (she insisted on no lid) and tossed the ice water, which the woman didn’t end up taking.
Conversations and work had resumed. No one seemed to pay the incident any mind.
But I was a bit thrown off — in a good way. Did this woman know she could come into Zendo and there would be friendly people to help? Or was it just random?
Either way, it was nice to see people spring into action. When helping strangers is that normal, maybe this world isn’t as bad as it seems sometimes.