by Kung Fu Zu 11/7/16
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop • Friday nights, we often eat Chinese food at a cafeteria located in a local Asian grocery store. The food is generally better than that one finds in most so-called Chinese restaurants here and the prices are much lower.
Last week we made our regular pilgrimage to the café and, after picking up our food, found a table on which we laid out our repast. While doing this, I happened to look toward a table about 10 or 15 feet from where we were sitting. I noticed the back of a somewhat stout Asian woman, her black hair streaked with gray. Nothing unusual about that, Asians get old like the rest of us. But there was something odd about her. She was wearing a strange combination of clothes which looked like a mis-matched set of pajamas.
In front of her stood a liter bottle of Coke Zero which she would pick up and drink from in the way a child does with a training cup when he stops using a baby bottle. When she finished drinking, she would pick up a small tin can, about the size of a small tomato paste can, out of which she pulled some type of food. I believe it was sardines or anchovies. She would then slowly lick her thumb and fingers. From my position beside and behind her I could see a half-smile light up her face.
My first reaction was, “This woman is really weird.” The idea that she was homeless flashed across my mind. But then I thought that would be an odd thing as one doesn’t see homeless Chinese around where I live.
The more I watched her the more convinced I became that this was not the case. This was not some alcoholic drifter or drug-crazed bum. I asked my wife to have a look at the woman, so she unobtrusively turned her gaze toward her and studied the lady for a few seconds. Turning back to me, she said, “Poor thing.”
A minute or so thereafter my wife had to go to the restroom, and on her way there made a quick further study of the woman. I remained seated and continued to observe the lady drinking her coke and eating her sardines. While I watched, the plastic Coke bottle cap fell on the floor and she made no move to retrieve it.
I looked down for a few seconds and when I looked up again the woman had a small stuffed animal in her hand. She was stroking its furry head as if it was a baby. She put that down and pulled out a small felt bag with string ties. A miniature basketball about 2 ½ or 3 inches in diameter appeared and she started to bounce it up and down on the floor. It was now absolutely clear that the woman had some sort of cognitive problems.
It bothered me that the Coke bottle cap remained on the floor and that nobody who walked by had picked it up. While thinking this, I looked across the room and saw my wife was returning to me. Before she reached me, I got up, picked up the bottle cap, and put it on the woman’s table. As I did this, the woman looked at me with shining eyes. With an almost angelic smile she thanked me, and I knew she meant it. Her voice was that of a child, innocent. I don’t think she could have been more pleased had I given her a present.
I went back to my wife and explained that there was certainly something wrong with the woman. Perhaps she had had a stroke, perhaps she…… At that moment, I became upset and could not say anything more. I wanted to do something, but I sat there in a quandary. She was an Asian female and I was a Caucasian male so any approach would have to be considered. More importantly, I did not want to take any chance to rob her of her dignity.
As I was thinking this, the woman got up and shuffled (she also had some physical problems) toward the food counter, and stood around just looking at the different items on the menu.
While I sat there, my wife said, “I will go up and ask her if she would like to have something to eat.” With that, she walked over near to where the woman was standing. She pretended to study the menu as well, and then casually started talking to the woman. In no time, my wife asked her if she was hungry and would like to have something else to eat. The woman answered in the affirmative and accepted my wife’s offer of further nourishment. Back she went to her table. While sitting, she opened a plastic shopping bag and pulled out six small bundles of spring onions and laid them out on her table in an orderly fashion. After that she straightened up everything else on the table in anticipation of the coming food.
My wife came back with a tray of food and placed it on the woman’s table. She was pleased as punch and thanked my wife very nicely.
When my wife sat down with me, she observed that whatever else, the woman was clearly obsessive.
Shortly thereafter, we made ready to go. As we left, we said goodbye to the lady who returned our farewell with that childlike smile and thanks. The last image I have of her is her happily stirring her hot soup with chopsticks.
Why do I write this? First, I am very proud of my wife who got up and performed a charitable act for someone without prompting. She did not sit and worry about what to do. She did something.
My wife was not born in America and is not a Christian, yet she certainly displayed Christian charity toward someone who she did not know and will likely never see again. She asked for no thanks and once the act was done forgot about it. She did not go on about how kind she was by helping another human being.
This brings me to perhaps a larger point. It is easy to complain and wish things were better. Talk is cheap. If one truly wishes to make America better, one must actually get up and do something. Voting is important but if you truly desire to improve things, helping others in need of your aid will do more than bitching. In fact, your personal acts are the only thing which will change things. As Kung Fu Zu said, “A journey of twenty thousand li, begins with the first step.” Make that step.
Kung Fu Zu is a conservative prognosticator who has traveled widely and lived outside the United States. • (443 views)