I don't think it is very easy to get out of one’s comfort zone, as we are creatures of habit. We have our likes and dislikes. Who we are and what we think have been shaped by our family and our environment. Getting outside of that generally is something we just don't choose to do, and if we do, it is not easy for us.
I was thinking this week about the homeless. In the years since I have retired and moved to Nashville I have come in contact with the homeless more than all the prior years in my life put together.
Three incidents in particular have stayed with me from some of those encounters.
1. Stay out of the judging business:
I met a lady one Saturday morning as I was walking into my favorite old record store. She asked for, "some spare change." The smallest bill I had was a $5. I gave it to her, and she thanked me. I thought to myself, "Well, I bet I know what that will go for." About an hour later, as I was walking back to my car, I saw the lady sitting on the curb of the street near my car. As I got closer, she recognized me and she held up a sandwich bag from a local fast food place--- sandwich in one hand, fries in her lap and coffee in the other. She held up her coffee, "Thank you Mr. Thank you for the sandwich and the coffee." And I thought, "Oh, so you knew what she was going to do?" Wrong---Adamson, wrong again.
2. He wanted validation:
I stopped at a Burger King, got out of my car, and noticed him standing in the parking lot. I walked his direction and asked, "Are you hungry?" He looked startled but quickly answered, “Yes.” As we stood in line at the counter waiting for our food to come, he turned to me and said the following, "Mr., when we get our food, would you have a bit of time to sit and talk with me?" As they say, “You could have knocked me over with a feather.” Wow. Some folks need more than just food.
She was walking toward me and I knew the question before she asked, "Would you have some spare change so I might get something to eat?" I asked her name. I told her there was a McDonald's right over there (I pointed) and I was on my way to get some breakfast and would she like to join me. She shook her head, “Yes.” We got our food, started eating and talking. As we ate and talked, I noticed she had gotten a knife from the counter and started cutting her sandwich in half, and she started to wrap some of her french fries in the napkin. She also went back to the counter to ask for a coffee refill and an empty cup. "You don't want all your sandwich, your food?” I asked. What she then said to me told me something about her. "I got a friend down the way, she wouldn't come with me to ask you. I'm gonna take her some of this." This lady knew the compassion of sharing. I told her to eat all she wanted and we would buy food for her friend before we left.
You know, all three of those folks took me out of my comfort zone. At first, I was never sure what to say or how to act. But in all three encounters, I learned something.
How about your comfort zone. Do you ever get out of it?
September 17, 2013