Have you ever wondered what makes us human?
I have, especially in light of what happened on Sunday morning.
On that particular day, I stopped by my favourite coffee shop. As soon as I enter the premises, I immediately sense something is amiss.
The barista, who is frowning deeply with her mouth open, is staring at someone in particular.
I follow her gaze …
There, sobbing massively is one of the homeless women I often encounter on my walks. I have known her for about three years now. She knows my name and the name of my dog, Lucky.
The atmosphere in the shop is heavy; no one is talking or approaching her. Who can blame them? The homeless lady smells awful and her hair is disheveled.
Is being human what makes us look different from one another?
I approach her and gently say, “Good morning, Love!” My words are met with piercing sobbing coming from her. “Hey, it’s me, Anne. Do you remember me?”
The homeless lady looks up, with her eyes a bit out of focus at first. “Aaaaannnne!”
I guide her towards the exit for a breath of fresh air. “Do you remember Lucky? He’s outside right now. Do you want to go see him while I order you some food? A coffee too?”
The sobbing lessens a little. “Lucky? Lucky’s outside? I wanna go see Lucky.”
“Do you want coffee?”
“Yes. A large cup. 14 sugars and 2 creams.” I nod, I know sugar is a form of high for many addicts.
“What about food? What do you want to eat?”
“Surprise me.” Now I am the one surprised, because it is like she is becoming very young all of a sudden.
I order her food and then step aside until my order is ready.
A young man walks up to me and says in a loud voice, “THANK YOU! Thank you for being human!”
Is being human receiving kudos for what we do?
I look at the young man, puzzled. In return, he looks at me as if to root me on the spot. In a louder voice, he exclaims, “NO! this is about YOU. THANK YOU for being a HUMAN.” And then he looks around with pinched lips.
If I did not know any better, I might think the young man just showed contempt for his fellow humans while thanking me for my humanity. I suddenly need fresh air too.
I walk outside and ask the homeless lady to take a bite of food, and she does. In a way, she seems to trust me in this moment. Softly, she asks, “Anne, how old is Lucky now?”
“He is 14.”
“How long have I known Lucky?” I tell her, about three years. “How old does that make him when I met him?” I smile and say 11.
I ask her to take another bite of food, which she does. Then she takes something out from underneath her clothes. “Look at my rat!”
“It’s beautiful!” I simply say. She nods and takes another bite of sandwich.
“I had to give xxx a blow job to have it, but I don’t care… I have my rat now…” She puts the rat back under her shirt. After taking a sip of coffee, she adds, “I’ve stopped taking heroine. I take meth and crack instead.”
Who am I to judge her? Some of my past addictions were: being a workaholic, judging, blaming, shaming, pleasing others, etc. I am still in recovery for those addictions.
I share with the homeless lady that I need to go now. She says, “How long you gonna take? Will you be back soon?” I can hear the desperate longing in her voice for human connection.
What makes us human?
Here are some qualities that make us human:
What else makes us human?
My name is Anne Beaulieu and I am an Emotional Intelligence coach who assists her clients in developing compassion for themselves and others. I can be reached at https://walkinginside.com/contact-us/