37 Minutes

HomelessArrived at Penn Station 7:42 pm
Rushing down 33rd Street toward the subway,
a Man says to me, “Excuse me, Sir, May I ask you a Question?”
Enough of a New Yorker to know that a Question means a request for Money, I apologize and say I am in too much of a Hurry.
He calls after me, “Would you buy me something to eat?”
I keep walking.
After twenty yards or so, I can continue no further.
I rush back.
There was a time when I made a commitment to give one dollar to every homeless person who asked me.
I continued this for six months or so.
It was good for me
Good for my Soul.
I don’t know how I got out of the habit.
“I have five dollars, That’s what I have.
What can we get you for five dollars?”

Elated and Relieved, he walked me to a Deli-Food place, pleading, “Please, not Pizza. I don’t want you to think I’m ungrateful, but I eat Pizza every day — the dollar slice. I just can’t eat pizza again. Anything else… Maybe we could get a plate in here for five dollars.”
He says a familiar, “Hello,” to the man at the counter, and asks how much some chicken and rice would be.
“Eight Ninety-Nine,” the Counterman replies.
The Homeless man asks if he can have it for less, and the Counterman explains apologetically, “I’m not the Boss.”
“I can come back later,” the Homeless Man says. “I can help you clean up or whatever you need. You know me. I’m on the streets. I can help you do stuff here if you like. I’ve done that for ya’ before!”
The Counterman acknowledges him, but says that he cannot change the price, pointing to the board above him.

“We have exactly five dollars,” I tell him.
“Is there anything we can get this man for five dollars?”
We negotiate “Chicken and Some Rice.”
The homeless man is So Grateful — Beaming.
I am moved by the Kindness of the Counterman, bending the rules.
I give him the last five dollars in my wallet.
As he puts the aluminum foil plate into a bag, I ask the Homeless man if he was planning on eating it here, indicating the several empty tables.
“Oh, No!” he says, knowing more about this than I do —
Part of the trade-off is that he take it and go away.

He is So Happy.
It’s not Pizza.
The Counter Man is so Kind.
Half a block from Penn Station, he is no doubt besieged with such requests.
We leave the store and say Good Night. The Homeless Man thanks me again.
I get about twenty yards and turn and rush back again.
“I’m Sorry,” I tell him, out of breath, “I don’t even know your name!”
“ANTHONY. My name’s ANTHONY,” he replies, delighted to be asked.
Thank You, ANTHONY.
Somehow he has given me more than I have given him.
That’s the way these things go.
I ask if we might take a picture together.
He holds up the Bag as if it were the CRATCHETT’s Christmas Goose and Exultantly proclaims, “And the Dinner! You, Me and the Dinner!”

The name ANTHONY means "priceless" or "inestimable worth"

The name ANTHONY means “priceless” or “inestimable worth”

We part once again.
I walk the same twenty yards or so a third time.
I turn and rush back again to the Deli-Food Place.
I thank the Counter Man.
I ask his name.
I ask if I might take his picture.
I explain that I have a Blog where I share stories and that this was such a Beautiful Experience of Community — it took all of us working together to make that Happen, and We Did It!
Clearly, ANTHONY’s CRATCHETT Christmas Morning Delight has proven quite infectious.
TAUHEED agrees, seeming humbled, as if he didn’t realize he had done a nice thing,
or perhaps no one had ever acknowledged him for it before.

The Name TAUHEED means "Unity or Oneness of God"

The Name TAUHEED means “Unity or Oneness of God”

I get to the subway train.
I sit.
Next to me is a very tall fit Scandinavian Man with biceps as big as my head.
A family gets on at the next stop.
The father and two daughters sit between us.
The tall fit Scandinavian Man with biceps as big as my head gets up and offers the Mother his seat.
I see the Grandmother standing in front of me.


The option of being tall and fit with Huge Biceps and a Chivalrous Gentleman is not afforded me this evening
But the option of being a Chivalrous Gentleman is.
I take the option I have and offer the Grandmother my seat.
The tall fit Scandinavian man plays on his phone, no doubt texting other tall fit people.
I depart the subway train at my stop at 8:19pm.

Such Small things.
Such trivial sacrifices, really.
Hardly worth mentioning.
But better to accept the opportunities to help, than not.
Along my Walk;
Along my Journey;
This particular 37 minute period,
That’s what was in front of me to do…
Those were the Opportunities that showed up
So rather than judge them as insignificant,
I embraced the Life I was offered
And I Lived it to the Best of my Ability

It’s not the Warren Buffet Foundation
It’s not the Jarvik Heart
It’s some chicken and rice and a seat on the subway
But I Showed Up For My Life and I did what I could.

starfish difference
The Starfish

One day a man was walking along the beach 
when he noticed a boy picking something up 
and gently throwing it into the ocean. 
Approaching the boy, he asked, 
“What are you doing?”
The youth replied, 
“Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  
If I don’t throw them back now, they’ll die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize 
there are miles and miles of beach 
and hundreds — maybe thousands — of starfish? 
You can’t possibly make a difference!”
After listening politely, 
the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,
and threw it back into the surf.  
Then, smiling at the man, he said,
“It made a difference to that one.”

–Adapted by an unknown author, based on The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley

How much Good can we do in 37 minutes?
Let’s choose any 37 minute period today, and see how much Good we can make happen
Or Let the 37 minute time period Choose You…

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  1. Lovely…just lovely. Thank you.

  2. A Peaceful Piece of Peace

     /  October 13, 2014

    Lovely…just lovely. Thank you

  3. dsbishop

     /  October 13, 2014

    Thanks for being so present to the present in the Present. What a wonderful story. Miracles found you (all). Thank you again!

  4. Interesting Arnold- At the very end of the post where it says “How much good can we do in 37 minutes?”, I at first mistakenly read it to say “How much God can we do in 37 minutes”. Yes, that too. This post is a perfect example of good AND God.This is such a rich way to live. To help another. To take a few minutes out of our hurried lives to do SOMEthing. These things are the big things. The little things are what matter most. I love that you told a story from a day in your life, and went back to get names and photos for your blog. It makes this piece so powerful. I will be sharing this on all my social media today (including my facebook fan page). Thank you for having a heart to help others. ❤


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