The not-so-short walk to the Port Authority felt even longer in this arctic-style climate. Like lemmings, the tired commuters migrated their way there. The Port Authority was never on anyone's "must-see" list of famous New York tourist attractions, though, at times, it could provide some visual entertainment. But not tonight, for tonight it was more crowded than usual. The shelters were filled to capacity and the homeless needed to be brought inside to any enclosed area from the sub-zero weather.
The lines for the buses were long. At the base of the platform where Lisa caught her bus stood an emaciated woman desperately begging for food. "Please help me, I'm very hungry. Please, please." Almost everyone averted their eyes. "She looks like a warehouse full of infectious diseases," snarled one young man to his friend. "Yeah, and I don't want to catch her cooties...let's keep well away from her," the other fellow responded.
This desperate soul reminded Lisa of the woman in the poster, a victim of poverty. Lisa felt her heart skip a beat with fear and thought, "I could be her someday...I must help her." Getting off the line, Lisa headed toward the general pharmaceutical store. Food, it must be something easy to eat, and no refrigeration required. Into the cart went two vinyl shopping bags, protein bars, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers, trail mix, individual boxes of corn flakes, small boxes of milk, chewy vitamins, water, plus disposable spoons, and knives. As an afterthought, she purchased alcohol wipes, some mouthwash, and a fuzzy blanket.
About an hour had passed and Lisa hoped that the woman was still there...if not, someone else would need these items.
Still standing where she had been before, the woman was now quietly speaking to herself as if saving any energy left in her for another day.
"Excuse me, ma'am, but I think you could use these...at least, I hope you can. It's a small amount of food, enough to get you by for a day or two until the shelters open up again." The woman looked at her in disbelief, but in a very soft voice, she said to Lisa, “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat".
Lisa arrived home to a cold apartment and sat down to a grilled cheese sandwich. That night going to bed, she had a very warm satisfied feeling inside of her.