Just Be Kind

As I slowed down to make the left turn, I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

He was near Massachusetts Avenue and the entrance to 395 South here in DC. He was standing between construction cones and Jersey barricades. It was dark, and there weren’t any streetlights nearby either. He wasn’t far from several other panhandlers.

Without thinking much about it, I assumed I knew what the sign he held would say.

But it didn’t tell a sad story (“Wife died. Vietnam vet. Hungry, tired and cold.”).

It didn’t make a joke at his own expense (“I’ll admit it; I just want beer.”)

His sign simply said, “Just Be Kind.”

And I burst into tears.

Because we shouldn’t have to request that. Especially when we’re in tattered clothes, on a cold night, standing in the middle of a busy intersection in the dark.

With car after car speeding past.