The Power of Words

Last Friday I was rushing through town to get to an appointment. I don’t know how many exactly, because I don’t count these things, but I would guess 10 people begged or asked me for money as I moved from one side of the city to the other. I reacted in the way that I always do, I shook my head and kept walking. It’s gotten so that I start shaking my head before they say anything.

Now, it’s not that I have no sympathy for the homeless, but for me, as for a lot of other people in today’s Ireland, every Euro in the monthly budget is accounted for. I don’t have that much to give, and if I was to give, how do I choose which of the 10 people I should give it to? So I shake my head and I keep walking. Every now and again some notion will move through my mind and I’ll feel like this time I should give, and I give that person some money and do without something that day.

This wasn’t one of those times. Instead, as I’d just passed the Gaiety, a woman stepped away from the wall with a familiar look on her face. I shook my head before she spoke and carried on walking, so it was a good 10 paces before her words registered with me. She hadn’t asked for money, she hadn’t said she was trying to get into a hostel. She’d simply said “Please, could you buy me some food?”.

The realisation of her words froze me in place. I thought about the contents of my backpack. I’d gotten a very large chicken roll from my work canteen earlier and eaten half of it on the Luas. The other half was just sitting in my back pack, neatly wrapped in tinfoil, waiting to be maybe eaten later if I got hungry. So I took off my backpack, took out the roll, walked back and handed it to her, telling her what was in it.

In a world where everyone wants your money, and you can’t know for sure why, I met a woman who was hungry, and that I could fix.

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