Be The Change You Wish To See In The World: A Story

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The waiter in the vibrantly coloured corner coffee shop pauses briefly to glance out the window. Her eyes fall upon a man sauntering along the pavement, his time-chiselled face tight with concentration. In one hand his white knuckles are around his gnarled walking stick. A swaying bag pleads with his other hand to meet the pavement below.

The man draws to a halt in front of a man draped in rags. Smudges of filth claim his skin but his auburn eyes dare to glance up in hope. The man with the wizened face bent down in subtle jolts, his grasp of the bag he had been carrying loosened as it exchanged owners. The hand that was holding the bag pulled a lightweight wallet from his pocket and produced a wad of notes. Between the rags, dirt-smudged face trembled with gratitude.

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From the bag, the homeless man removed two blankets and a carton of food. The rags around him danced in the wind as he lifted himself, picking up one of the blankets and the carton of food in the process. The waiter observed as his shadow became one with the darkness. When he returned, the carton was half less full.

When the sun greeted the corner coffee shop the next day, the waiter caught a glimpse of the same man with the fatigued gait and the gnarled walking stick. The waiter emerges from the cosy coffee shop, finding her breath clouding briefly before vanishing into the air. Her feet softly pattering down the pavement until she caught up with the man. She made an offering from words and he followed her as she retreated to the musty warmth of the coffee shop.

He sat by the window as the waiter produced him with a mug of coffee. The rich, earthly aroma brings delight to his senses. Warmth floods through his fingers on contact with the mug and his creased face breaks into an angelic smile. The waiter denies payment, she had seen that the goodness of his soul will use the money for greater purposes. On the splintered table lies a note, the words carefully scribed upon it; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The waiter still ponders over these words as she ambles home. She is approaching a beggar, desperate for money and donations. Usually, she speeds up when she passes him and keeps her head down in shame, but today is different. She opens her wallet and removes most of her cash. His hands extend to her in gratitude. She likes the feeling inside of her – a lovely warm, fuzzy feeling of joy.

As she ambles on, she finds herself aware of a young girl staggering towards a car as if the four points of the earth itself were playing tug-of-war with her. She fumbles with her keys, jabbing them everywhere but in the lock securing the car door. The harsh tang of booze escapes her mouth as she utters uncatchable words, disguised in the slur of intoxication. The waiter is also speaking, but hurriedly and purposely into her phone. A cab draws up and the waiter shepherds the girl into the back seat. The waiter hands the driver some money and slips a note into the girl’s suede leather jacket – the note the old man gave her. She pushes the door closed and goes on her way.  

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