About Face

by Mark Edwards
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

About Face

Several years ago, while waiting for my friend to arrive at a busy train station in the centre of the city, I watched the flood of passengers entering and leaving the station. Sitting to the side of this flow was an old man. Judging by his age he was a veteran of the Second World War, and he was collecting money for charity. He wasn’t asking anything, just politely holding out a wooden collection box as most people of course simply passed on by.

As I watched, a beautiful young girl approached. She was wearing a short skirt and a tight top. I thought to myself, “She is so caught up in how good she looks, I bet SHE won’t give the old guy anything.” At which point the girl saw the old man. She stopped and put down the things she was carrying so that she could open her purse and find a few dollars to put in his collection box.

It was a slap in the face for my sanctimonious attitude. I have never felt so ashamed. I raced back to my car, which was parked a couple of blocks away, cursing myself the whole way and grabbed all the cash I had in it. My main thought was to get back there before the old man left.

I hurried back to the train station with the money and gave it to the old man. He was grateful …and so was I. I was more grateful to the young girl, even though I didn’t know who she was, for teaching me not to be so arrogant in my judgements of other people.

(Mark is the Marketing Manager at Oska Software, http://www.oska.com)

Originally published as HeroicStories #16 on June 8, 1999

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