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First World Problems

The homeless lady looked at me.

So I looked at the homeless lady looking at me.

“You’re crying.”

“I know.”

“Can you spare two dollars and fifty eight cents? The doctor said I need to drink coffee.”

Annoyed at the distraction, I reflected that no doctor would ever say that.

You’re a horrible person, I mouthed to myself in an imaginary mirror.

And then I said, “What else can I get you?”

She looked skinny, and hungry, and tired.

Her sleeping bag was next to her on the seat, with a backpack and her pocketbook.

Using the mobile app, I tried to order her some food. But there are so many Starbucks in the city, I had trouble figuring out which one we were at.

This was becoming an odyssey.

I picked up my computer, knapsack, phone and coffee and traveled to the counter to get our exact location.

“I have the flu,” she announced as I walked away.

And then came back.

“Now I know where we are,” I said proudly, and keyed our location into the phone.

“I wouldn’t have stolen your stuff,” she said, watching me approach, leaving me feeling ashamed.

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you,” I responded, although of course it was perfectly appropriate not to trust a complete stranger or to leave my things laying out.

This conversation was not going well, and it was taking too much time.

We ended up ordering a bacon and cheese sandwich.

“I can’t eat that,” I pointed out helpfully.

“Why not?”

“Because I’m kosher,” I said.

“What’s that?”


“Oh. I have a Star of David tattooed on me near my kidney.”

“You’re kidding. Are you Jewish?”

“No, I’m a Baptist missionary.”


“Do you want anything else?”

“A Danish?”

She kept on talking.

“Wait, what kind of Danish? Cheese or do you want a cinnamon bun?”


The order complete, we discussed how long it would take to get it ready.

“They look busy,” she said. “Long line.”

Ten minutes later, she got up and took her sleeping bag, knapsack and pocketbook with her.

“They said they’re all out of the food.”


“Yeah. You would’ve gotten shorted.”

I went up to the counter and the food was sitting there.

“I’m sorry,” said the barista. “She said that she was you.”

At which I realized that they wouldn’t give the homeless lady the food.

They didn’t think a homeless person could afford a mobile order.

“It’s her food,” I said. “Sorry for any confusion.”

Embarrassed, I sat down and she came by a few minutes later.

Again she started talking, and I sat there pretending to listen.

“How old are you?”

“46. How about you?”


She told me a lot of other stuff that made absolutely no sense.

And I realized God had sent her to stop me from crying.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own; this blog is posted in the author’s personal capacity. Available for reuse under Creative Commons 3.0. Public domain photo via Pixabay.

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