There is nothing like business travel to make you soul search…especially when you travel by yourself for several weeks in a row. This time I was in Seattle. After work I watched a fist fight ensue out the window of my downtown government per diem hotel, but I decided I needed to suck it up and get outside. My challenge – find the Space Needle then the fish market then loop around the aquarium and locate my hotel again all while avoiding the fist fighters. My walk started out quite successfully. I made it all the way to the Space Needle. Then I found the monorail and decided to be a tourist and hop aboard. While standing in line, a man shouted sarcastically, “What’s so great about this?” The crowd averted their eyes. After an extremely short ride we all disembarked. The man continued making snide remarks as we marched down the stairs. He was walking right in front of me and we traveled the same direction toward the fish market. He started harassing a woman talking on her cell phone in front of him. He repeated words from her conversation, “Yes, tell me how that relationship is going? We ALL want to hear!” His boldness was painful. I don’t remember how, but we all scattered to get away. It made me wonder…was he mentally ill? Was he angry? Why didn’t anyone tell him to stop? Why didn’t I?
The next leg of my journey led me through the fish market and down the steps to the water. I passed by a man who looked like he could have been Bob Marley’s long lost brother. He was selling bottles of water for $1 out of a cooler to the sweaty tourists. ARE YOU THIRSTY YET? That’s what his sign said. I stopped and told him I wasn’t thirsty yet, but I was planning on being thirsty eventually. He smiled and I continued on.
As I made my way toward the aquarium I walked past a young woman holding a piece of cardboard that said “Need help with rent, diapers, and food. Two kids.” Next to her, a stroller. Inside, a baby. I watched as all eyes avoided her and conversations between friends, parents, and children picked up nervously when they noticed her, as to mean, “we are talking so we can’t see you.” As I power walked by her, we made eye contact, and my heart broke. I looked down and was struck hard by the message written boldly on my favorite workout shirt — “Live Generously.” I couldn’t get her out of my head. I had $11 in my pocket and I knew what I needed to do. The crazy, mean guy from the train taught me a lesson. If he can be bold enough to harass people, then I can be bold enough to bless them.
I did my lap around the aquarium and started back the way I came. I found the woman and stopped. I introduced myself and asked her about her life. What brought her to this point? How was she seeking help? What worried her most? She introduced me to her baby, Jude (she called him Judicans Cuticans). She tried not to smile, though it was hard for her not to when looking at her adorable sleeping baby. Her teeth were yellow and she was missing a front tooth from a vitamin deficiency during pregnancy. Her teeth made her feel self-conscious and she shared with me how this problem made her nervous during job interviews. Affording dental work was not a possibility. After about an hour of chatting, I reached in my pocket and gave her my $10 bill and asked if there was any other way I could help. She shook her head. I hugged her, told her she would be in my prayers, and continued on. I had $1 left and I knew just where I was going next. I was thirsty.