I was just on my way here tonight, waiting to cross Market Street, when this nasty-looking, mean-spirited homeless man shook a cup of money in my face and said, Please help. I looked at him, I looked in the cup. And thought about how I could help. And in following the guidance of my spiritual advisor that is proper to both give and receive, I looked at him with all the love in my eyes, and said, Thank you, God Bless You. Then I took a crisp one-dollar bill OUT of his cup and put it in my wallet and crossed the street to get here.
The spirit of giving can be so wonderful and takes so many forms. Back in the 50s, we had a president, Harry Truman, whose nickname was Give Em Hell Harry.
One way we can give is to give of our time. This is perhaps the precious gift of all. I remember walking along Ocean Beach back in September during the heat wave we had, when I came across something someone had left. A watch. The gift of time. Just for me. Thank you, whoever who you are. Now, I donít have that watch, as you can see. I left behind somewhere. I guess that the gift of time was a gift that keeps on giving. I hope the new owners have the time to enjoy it. If they havenít lost it yet.
Another way we can give is to give of ourselves. 2 Christmases ago, I heard this public service announcement for a Tenderloin nonprofit asking the public to give not only money, give not only time, but to come down and help to lift the spirits of others by being a friend-for-a-day with
someone less fortunate. So I called my spiritual advisor, got put on hold for 10 minutes, and finally she answered and said, Before you ask, you got to give me your credit card number. I did, and so 30 dollars and 5 seconds later, she advised, Give of yourself, Go do it.
So I did. I went down there, showing up at the door with a smile on my face and a spirit of giving of myself in my heart. The staff looked at me, nodded over to this skins-and-bones 72-year-old man with a toucan beak for a nose and razor stubble so coarse you could use his face to sand wood, and looked away.
I went over to Toucan Face and introduced myself to him. "Hi! Iím
Bill! Iíll be your friend-for-a-day!" Toucan Face swung his head around, almost hitting me with his nose, and grunted,
"What gives?" Turns out he didnít like cheery people. Found they gave him a headache.
Sitting down with him, I found out he was a career pickpocket. He told me about the different cities of the world he had visited thanks to the wonderful people who had given so generously to him. Even if they didnít know it. He told me about how he had given back to the community by running a school teaching pickpockets, finding his students by taping flyers to lightpoles offering to show ways to make $1000 a day in your spare time. You can still see his student's flyers today.
He and I talked and laughed and found that, once you take away his toucan beak and lousy attitude, we were very similar. Both people in a sea of humanity connected by our hopes for ourselves and each other. Just lifting each others spirits.
Oh, it was a wonderful day for me. I learned about the underground world of the pickpocket. Gained new techniques for advertising. And lifted the spirits of another.
When I got home, I found that my wallet was gone. Toucan Face had lifted my wallet.†
Thank you for giving me your time and of yourselves. Thank you, God Bless You. Now, can I have my watch and wallet back?