Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mary and a bottle of water

A few days ago I met a middle-aged woman named Mary who lives in one of the apartments above the storefront that is now the home of The Pod Coffee House. I had seen her on the street a few times prior to actually meeting her. I had been warned by a few well-meaning Pod neighbors not to talk to Mary or allow her to hang around The Pod, as she has a not so clean reputation. One rumor has it that she used to be a drug dealer, while another has her pegged as a husband beater.

Yesterday afternoon Mary took it upon herself to sit down at one of our outdoor tables. I exited the cafe to see who had taken a seat and if they would like anything from our menu, when I noticed that it was her. She asked me if she could sit there for a few minutes while waiting for her taxi. I told her that would be fine. She then asked if I had a glass or bottle of water, as she was quite thirsty, due to the hot, humid weather. I went inside and came back with a bottle of water, which I gave to her. She then informed me that she had barely enough money to pay for her soon to arrive cab and that she would pay me later for the bottle of water. I told her not to worry about it, and went back inside to wait on a customer.

Today, at precisely the same time as yesterday, I noticed Mary sitting at that same table again. So I went out and, against the advice of neighbors and fellow business owners, struck up a conversation with her. Mary shared a bit of her life with me as she informed me that she had gone to the county jail the day before to visit her grandson and today she was headed to a nearby clinic to pick-up her diabetic meds. We got onto the topic of prayer and before I knew it we were talking about spirtual matters. Mary went on to tell me that she had hurt a lot of people in her past and that her life had not been the greatest, but that she has put all of that behind her and is trying to "fly straight." We talked a bit about God and what it means to know Him personally. She went on to tell me that she believes in God and that Jesus is her "Higher Power," but, she does not go to church because of her lifestyle and the way people in church look at her. She asked me to pray for her and she went on her way.

I am wondering what would have happened if I had followed the advice of those well intentioned neighbors and not spoken to Mary. Or, worse yet, asked her to move along instead of taking up paying customer space.