24 March 2010
Floral Foam Mattresses & Other Life Lessons
Last week Josh and I borrowed a foam mattress from his brother who lives across the street. Post-guests, we headed out to return it just after work hours on a Wednesday (something I’m not actually bound by at the minute). I put on a low-key combo of track pants and a “World Aids Day” shirt, which I coupled with aviator glasses and a messenger bag.
Half-way there Josh realized he had forgotten the keys. Rather than drag the mattress all the way back up the elevator and so on, I decided to stay with it while he ran back. Feeling slightly awkward standing in the middle of the sidewalk on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Sydney, I backed myself up to the nearest building and perched the mattress behind me.
Stood just to the left of the entrance to a bar, I began to get the expected odd look from passersby. After all, who’s standing on the sidewalk at 6pm carrying around a giant foam mattress covered in a floral print? I popped in my earphones and started fiddling with my phone to look “busy,” looking down to avoid eye contact.
Not liking the current tune blasting through my headphones, I eased my right hand into my bag and pulled my iPod out of my bag and started looking through my playlist. Meanwhile, my phone was resting calmly in my left hand. A few seconds later I see someone’s hand approaching mine with something shiny in it. I looked up just in time to watch a woman of about sixty placing a dime next to my cellphone in my left hand.
I quickly pulled the earbud out of my right ear and began to say to her, “oh, thank you ma’am but I am not....” but before I could finish she closed my fingers around the ten cent piece, pulled her hand to her mouth, formed the international symbol for ‘shhhh, be quiet,’ and said to me, “it’s alright honey, you just take this and get the help you need.”
Now, first of all, did I really look homeless and in need? Second of all, wouldn’t the cell phone in one hand and iPod in the other hand suggest that I am in fact not in need? Third of all, what homeless person is going to “get the help they need” with ten cents? Not wanting to go on and on, I mouthed the words “thank you” and she continued on, offering me one final smile.
Josh returned and I showed him my bounty to which he replied, “yeah, you do kind-of look homeless, what with the movable bed and all.” We finished our errands and returned home, where I placed the dime on my nightstand as a constant reminder of some life lesson, though I’m still trying to figure it out...