Invisible People

We were in the city, at a cafe before a show. It was a cool evening but, warm enough in our coats, we were sitting at an outside table sipping our coffees and chatting. Vaguely aware of all the others at tables around us simlarly engaged in their lattes and conversations.

Hands Holding CoffeeSuddenly behind me, there was a bit of a disturbance. I turned to see an elderly man in a shabby coat being hustled back to the street by a waiter. Apparently he’d been begging at nearby tables.

As he vanished into the night, I glanced around and saw folk simply going back to their coffees and conversations as before. Nobody seemed concerned. Nobody else turned to watch him leave. He’d been hurried off like an embarrassment. None of us had talked to him or found out his story. Nothing.

It was as if nothing had happened, as if he hadn’t existed – as if he were invisible. And I wondered … did anyone else feel sad?

A couple of weeks later, we were again in the city for another show. Three of us were drinking coffee at an outside table at the same cafe.

This time a woman approached our table and asked for money. Very thin. Unkempt hair falling over her face. I don’t know how old she was, but she sounded tired.

I looked up at her and said “Would you like something to eat? To drink?”

She said she’d like a cappucino, so I rose and went indoors to get one. When I returned and handed her cup, sugars, spoon and paper serviette, our hands touched briefly. Hers shook a little.

“Thank you. Bless you!”, she said. And was gone.

What? Bless me? But I’d done nothing. I’d not learned her story. I’d not asked her … anything! I’d not helped her. All I’d done was buy her a coffee. It was nothing.

And yet … perhaps at least she’d been visible. And maybe that’s something.


  1. The smallest of connections can make the biggest difference

  2. AMEN! Good reminder…”Unto the least of these…”

    Apropos: The movie THE SOLOIST

    • Thanks Jim. I’ve just checked and unfortunately The Soloist is is not due for release here in Australia till September apparently.

      I’ll look forward to seeing it – in spite of a rather condemnatory review I read, written by Linda Malazzo of the Huffington Post. :-)

      For a wonderfully inspiring – and totally respectful – film on a similar theme, I loved the documentary Dark Days!

  3. I’d like to imagine that this shift in thinking so many of us are experiencing recently will lead to a greater sense of compassion. To a time when our value is no longer measured by our purchase power. These invisible people deserve as much. As do we all.

    • Beautifully said! Thank you. I also believe we are living in a time of shifting paradigms – and each small act of change can have an unknowably large ripple effect. There are so many signs of these small positive shifts if we know where to look and how to see them. :)

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