Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Mitten Story

I keep a basket of assorted gloves and mittens by the door. These days, I seem to favor the sheepskin mittens.

I frequent a tiny strip mall that consists of a health food store,  a sports shop and a boutique.  On favorable days a homeless man (well, perhaps he lives at God's Love Shelter in this weather) sits by the entrance of the food store and plays a Native American flute. I usually stop and hand him a few bucks because my gut tells me he is truly destitute and not buying booze with it. (Maybe a little, but it sure helps to take a little nip in this weather). He always stops playing when I approach him and we chat a little. When I handed him the money, his hands felt like ice.

" Your hands are freezing.  Where are your gloves?"
"I don't have any."
"You need fingerless gloves." 

When I returned from the food store and was getting in my car, I glanced up at the sports store.  They must have fingerless gloves. I threw my groceries in the car and went into the sports shop. Of course, they had hunting gloves with a mitten flap and they were made of soft ragg wool.  Perfect. I ran over to the flute player with the gloves.  He tore off the tag,  put them on immediately, while thanking me profusely and saying he even had money to buy food tonight.

As I walked back to my car, the haunting melodic sounds of the flute filled the parking lot and I had tears in my eyes. I don't know why but maybe it's because my hands have always been warm.


  1. Wonderful thing to do
    Obviously he appreciated it from you
    And within seconds right now on'es hands will freeze out there
    So now his tune can be all the more rare

  2. OOoh that was the sweetest thing you did. Wow...very nice!!!

  3. What a sad story, not sad that you gave him such a gift, but sad that he was so cold. It's not good to be cold. You keep warm this winter, won't you, Manzanita!

  4. Your story gave me warm fuzzies ^_^

  5. You are a truly wonderful soul. How inspiring this is! Acts like that truly make a difference in the world.

  6. Hi Manzanita .. wonderful - so often I've seen the homeless reject things - I guess they just want booze ..

    Well done and I'm so pleased he was happy (very!) with his mittens and he had a little money for food ..

    Excellent heart warming post - thank you .. Hilary

  7. Hiya .. you mentioned the book and film I recommended having seen the film at our Film Society ..

    When I hear about extreme cold, I remember the book you suggested (but the name now escapes me) about the Polish group of soldiers that were sent to Siberia by the Russians. How they were tied together and walked behind huge trucks.

    The Film is The Way Back .. and details etc are found here via Wikipedia

    Cheers Hilary

  8. Hallo there! What a lovely heartwarming post, and what a thoughtful thing for you to do.

  9. Karen : Thank you but I don't exactly know about that. I do realize often, that I've lived a comfortable life and not everyone has had that good fortune.

    Pat : I certainly don't give to every supposedly homeless person holding a sign on a street corner because I do feel that many of them are scammers. But this guy can carry on a conversation and I feel he is for real.

  10. turquoisemoon : Thanks but I know you would do the same thing in the same circumstance.

    Rosalind : As much as I love winter, it's a horrible thing when you don't have the appropriate clothing. Losing your heat was a very bad ordeal. I hope that doesn't happen again. Thanks, kiddo.

    Loralie : Thanks for stopping. Warm fuzzies would be appreciated in such bone-chilling weather.
    Keep warm.

  11. Hilary : I understand what you mean about the homeless just wanting booze. This guy seems rather spiritual because one day he was telling me the history behind the flute and how he acquired it. And he has kind eyes.
    Thank you for the name of the book. It must have really impressed me because it always comes to mind when I think about being cold. I did buy the book way back, whenever you talked about it. In fact, I think it was on Sue's blog. That book may have found the thrift store pile when I was doing all that sorting and moving this summer. I had several helpers and of course, they had no idea of what I wanted to toss or keep.
    But I have that memory and when it gets really cold, I'm thankful for down-filled coats and sheepskin mittens. I'll look it up again as it seems to keep me warm. Ha ha

  12. thisisme : Thanks but I know you would have done the same. Actually, this winter is moving right along and we can think gardens. Yesterday I got some different kinds of bean seeds.Am I jumping the gun?

    Optimistic : Thank you but I certainly don't do it for recognition. I don't give to the large charities but I like to try to bring a little comfort into the lives of those less fortunate.

    Fishducky : You are one lucky ducky....... You are a smart ducky too, to pick a warm climate for building your nest.

  13. How sweet you are Manzi!! That is why I love you so much. I know you are a good person.

    I give food to a homeless woman when we go to the Strip District in Pittsburgh. She about breaks her arm getting at the food. So sad.

  14. Most people would look at him and just think "poor fellow" and walk on. You thought that but also managed to do something very tangible and thoughtful to make his life better right then. The perfect random act of kindness. Proud to know you.

  15. Such a thoughtful thing to do, Manzi.

    Whenever I see a homeless person, I imagine the child being asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And I know the answer was not "Homeless." Somehow, through a series of bad decisions, perhaps mental illness, maybe PTSD in the military, job loss, chronic illness, this was the end of the road. And, like your flute player, it isn't that they have NO skills, it's just that they have no address. And once that happens, it is so hard to DIG OUT.

    Where did your homeless man learn to play his flute? Junior high school, high school? Somewhere else? He was once a productive citizen. He once had gloves. Thanks to you he does again.

  16. Terry, My Journey with Candida : Thanks but I know you would have probably given him your down-filled jacket, too. You are so generous. You made aprons for Marilyn, my granddaughter and me. You would give food to a homeless woman but what is Strip District? Is that as in stripper? What are you doing in a strip district? I know, gathering data for your book. I love you too and will email you to find out more about this. Ha ha

  17. Patti : Thank you for the kind words but I'll never forget when you worked in a bank and you'd make up the difference out of your own pocket for this certain old lady when she would come in. That was such an act of kindness and I can almost picture her. But in truth, we should always help those less fortunate..... not the scammers, though. Thank goodness our gut can pick them out.

  18. Robin : You ask such pertinent questions and I'm sure you hit on all the possibilities that would make a person homeless. Yes it is a pity because most likely every person on the street was once a productive individual. I think, too, how demeaning it would be for them to beg for their creature comforts. The flute player never puts out anything resembling a tip can or a flute case like some musicians do.
    It is a primitive bamboo-like flute made by the Blackfoot tribe. He seems very proud of the flute and the sound is really hauntingly beautiful.

  19. Great gesture of humanity...I would have done the same thing!

  20. What a wonderful story, Manzie. You truly made a difference.

  21. Ah, you're just a big ol' softie at heart, aren't you?!?!

  22. An amazing story, of simple compassion. Thanks you for sharing it.

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  23. Oh my gosh! I agree that you are truly an angel. This is such a beautiful post and really made me smile.

  24. That's so very sweet of you! I love people who do things like this. So many would just walk on past and ignore him.

  25. What a touching story. Such a nice gesture. I'm sure he'll remember you.

  26. Dear Chuck
    You are all so dear and how can we get to be such close friends when we never lay eyes on one another. But it happens and we are.

    I feel embarrassed when everyone says what a "good" thing I did because it was "absolutely nothing."
    I think I wrote this post because I realize how fortunate I've been all my life and I have so much compared to this poor man, who was once no doubt, a productive citizen. That is the harsh reality of life and I'm sure my life is still rather sheltered and there are more gruesome deprivations going on in the world than what we see in this small town. Small towns appear to be the heart of humanity and I am so happy to live in one. We have very little crime, never any mass shootings and I'll bet there are several guns in every home. The town has a good shelter for homeless..... if, that is, they abide by the rules.

    This summer, my son brought out to the ranch, a U-haul full of furniture. He had some trouble on the way (flat tire) and asked if I could find someone to help him unload. I called the shelter and found a strong young man eager to earn a few bucks. I picked him up, met my son at the ranch and they unloaded the truck. They had some dinner and my son took a beer out of the fridge. The shelter man asked for one too, and my son was about to give him one. I intercepted and said "No." I told the young man that I know the rules of the shelter, that is no alcohol and no drugs. He said he did not want to be out on the street again, so he drank lemonade. He thanked me on the way back to town.
    I'm rambling but thank you all for being so kind.

  27. sigh ... a good deed. I need to do a good deed. Quit thinking about silly irritating nonproductive stuff and do a good deed.


  28. That makes me look at the street players in a whole new light. What great kindness you showed to him.

  29. and your heart too

  30. Carolyn : I believe good deeds serve their purpose and really help someone, but actually we must do these deeds for ourselves because it does make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But it is a double-edge sword. Serves the purpose of making us feel better and adds a few extra bucks to a poor persons pocket when we give them a little money.

    Susan : Yeah.... I always drop a buck or 2 in the cases of the street players. At least they are DOING something and bringing a little joy by their music. Unlike the ones who sit by the highway turn-off with a card board sign and they always have a dog. Supposed to tweak your heartstrings. At the end of the day they go to their expensive cars and drive home. slick, huh?

  31. I follow Arkansas Patti, so I followed her here. My heart was touched by you both today.

  32. I'm here from Arkansas Patti's. Beautiful story! It was such a wonderful thing you did. It's so sad to think of so many out there who are cold and hungry.