Thursday, December 3, 2009

Open a door

By Ashley-Anne Churchill, Environmental Science

It’s amazing how we’ve gotten so wrapped up in the petty details of life, in a society that tells us we never have enough, that we rarely appreciate how fortunate we really are. Most of us don’t realize what we have until we have to live without it.

A little while ago I had gotten a small bonus on my last paycheck from a seasonal job and I decided to treat my brother, my mom and myself to coffee and treats at Tim Horton's on a very cold night. As I walked towards the door, an underprivileged fellow smiled and opened the door for me. As I was waiting for my order, I looked back on the man standing at the door, holding it open for everyone who walked through with that cheerful smile on his face.

Very few looked at him or returned his smile. I realized that even I had fastidiously looked away and I was appalled with myself. Without thinking, I asked to add a box of doughnut holes to my order and silently gave it to him on my way out, looking at him with a forlorn look on my face. He looked straight at me and said with a knowing look, "Keep smiling."

I felt so comforted at that moment. I felt so sad for him before, but it seemed like he was actually saying "Don't worry, things will get better. I know it, and you need to know it too." I had and still have very little money and I'm constantly wondering how long I'll have a roof over my head and food to eat, but I am thankful for what I have.

One day a few weeks later, my mom bought me some cookies and a coffee; it was the best thing I'd tasted in weeks, possibly months. I was reminded of the fellow who, as I was trying to comfort and help him, ended up comforting and helping me. I wish I could meet him again and let him know that I will never forget what he said:

"Keep smiling."

I was lost in my own misery because I felt I had lost so much and I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. But it only took the smile of a homeless man to open the door to a new perspective for me. I decided that no matter how little I have, I will always try to give something to someone else, whenever I have the chance, because there will always be someone less fortunate than me.