Eat Your Heart Out

I’ve written a few times recently about distributing food as a good deed. There’s a fundamental quality to feeding another human being. When you give food you’re meeting an essential need. You’re nourishing a body so that it can carry on. Maybe that’s why I’ve always felt the heart of a household is in the kitchen. It’s where life literally is sustained.

Apparently life was also sustained on a Toronto transit vehicle yesterday, where I happened to notice an interaction between a man and woman who didn’t know each other. It was a dodgy bus on a dodgy bus route. Folks are known to avoid this route just because of its dodginess. But sometimes dodginess and diversity go hand in hand, and that’s when things get interesting.

A guy in one of the front seats was talking loudly and unabashedly to the lady opposite him. They clearly belonged to very different demographics, but he struck up a conversation with her all the same. After a minute or so he asked her if she liked rice cakes. He said he had rice cakes. He said he could give her rice cakes.

The woman tittered, clutched her oversized purse, turned down the offer. Then he said lightheartedly, “Are you too good for them?” and at this she broke out into gales of laughter. In fact they had a grand chuckle together. When I looked the next time, the lady was putting a bag of rice cakes into her big purse and thanking him repeatedly.

“I give food to the homeless, you know,” he said. They smiled at each other convivially. He passed her a few packets of microwaveable popcorn. She seemed pleased.

After only a few minutes I reached my destination and got off the bus (“Follow the leader,” the man commented when I passed him with my daughter and two friends in tow). Later I wondered what had compelled this unselfconscious man to give food to this woman. Had he been roaming the city all day, looking for people he could nourish? Or was it a sudden impulse? Why did he choose this lady, who didn’t exactly look hungry but clearly appreciated the groceries? Did he have particularly keen instincts for targeting those in need?

Or was it just because, on a dodgy bus taking a dodgy bus route, the odds were pretty high that any fellow transit riders would be grateful for a gift of food?

Let’s call this a little food for thought.

On a complete side note, I will be speaking on the topic of good deeds on an upcoming morning television show. My appearance will kick off their short series on giving, so I’m excited! Details to follow soon.

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