The other night my wife and I were out to get some Sunday dinner. The events of the weekend having conspired to leave us little energy or food ready to cook, we set out to find something simple at a local restaurant. That’s when we met Faith.
Turning the corner onto a 2-lane highway, there was a lady standing on the side of the road, shifting and looking nervously back and forth down the road. Given the time of day (getting dark), location and weather, I pulled over and rolled the window down.
Faith grew up in New Jersey, and spent some time traveling in Europe. She was at one point a model living in NYC, and she rattled off the names of ‘haute couture’ designers for whom she had worked. She could speak a little French, as her mother-in-law was French – we had a good laugh about ‘merde, alors!’.
She raised four children, was divorced years ago, and went to school in Florida following a dream of becoming a lawyer. Bills piled up and work was hard to find, and she quit school with $90,000 in student loans.
We drove past a house where she thought a friend might be, but the car wasn’t there. She told us how she was working odd jobs, and was scared to death to get a full time job because the loan collectors would find her. Her friend owed her five dollars, after partial payment for cleaning a room in the house.
We wound up at a local pizza joint – we were all hungry. Faith gestured and scratched with the pattern of those under the influence. I’m pretty sure she was a drug user. And we had a conversation about history, politics, international culture and kids. She said she’d probably vote for Trump in the upcoming election because we need a strong military and need to kick ISIS out of our country.
All of this just reminded me of how lucky I am (and we are), and also how much more we need to do to connect with those that are so often marginalized, so that we understand their reality – so that we empathize, and are more considerate in our thinking about those, including Faith, who might be standing in the cold.