It's a frigid night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The surrounding mountains are blanketed in snow and the wind is sweeping relentlessly across the desert. I'm driving around searching for anything with green chiles on it (IYKYK). Due to the nature of my short trip, my goal has been to have chiles of some variety at every meal.
I drive for some time before finding a place with decent reviews and easy parking. I pull up to Los Victor's Mexican Food California Style #14 and think to myself, "With a name like that, it has to be good."
I hop out and quickly make my way towards the entrance to minimize my time in the cold. As I trot, I notice the figure of a man huddled against a nearby business, rubbing his hands together to stay warm. I feel a tug on my heart, but I continue on inside.
As I wipe my feet on the mat I'm hit with the smell of allspice, warm tortillas, and the hum of a horchata machine. It's empty besides the one employee taking and making orders and one other couple sharing a quesadilla at a table nearly.
I order a carne asada plate, three rolled chicken tacos, and add green chile to both of them. As I wait for my food, the man I saw outside opens the door. We all stop and look at him, but say nothing. He puts his head down and makes his way to the bathroom. As he passes me I notice a sign on the door that says, "Restroom for customers only."
He comes out a few minutes later and pauses at the table to my right with the couple at it, "Uh, um, would you mind buying me a drink?" I thought it honorable that despite his circumstances, he still wanted to respect the rules of the business. He used the restroom and wanted to be a customer.
Without a second thought, the young man laughs and says, "Why don't you buy me a drink?" The homeless man chuckles for a second before realizing this joke was aimed at him and not meant to be shared with him. He began to shuffle back out of the door before the employee behind the counter called to him. He held out a cup in his hand and beckoned for the man to take it.
It took me longer to eat than usual that night and before I realized it, I was the only person left and they were closing. I got up to leave, but stopped before I reached the door. "Thank you, for the food, and everything else." The employee just nodded.
I don't know why the couple next to me chose to be cruel and I don't why the man behind the counter chose to be compassionate. I do know that we have a choice and between the two, why choose cruelty?
In a cruel world, choose compassion.
Commit one act of compassion today.
Can you name the last time you showed compassion to someone?
"Compassion does not just happen. Pity does, but compassion is not pity. It's not a feeling. Compassion is a viewpoint, a way of life, a perspective, a habit that becomes a discipline - and more than anything else, compassion is a choice we make that love is more important than comfort or convenience." - Glennon Doyle Melton