I believe that you just never know. You never know when someone you need in your life will appear, when a golden opportunity will present itself, or when life – and people — will surprise you beyond belief.
I worked as a paralegal in a small, boutique law firm in Midtown Atlanta in a high-rise building where homeless persons often stepped into the lobby briefly for shelter from the cold wind. One day, the attorneys were out celebrating a case win, leaving only staff in the office. The receptionist walked to my office saying that an elderly, homeless man smelling of alcohol, but very polite, was asking for a lawyer. She was unsure how to handle the situation, so I spoke to the man. He indicated that his adult children were attempting to commit him to a mental health facility as being incompetent. “I’m not incompetent,” he said. “I am quite wealthy, but everyone, including my children, is after my money. Frankly, most people are boring, too. I prefer associating with drunks under the Spring Street Bridge.”
My boss, Joe, was open minded and annually studied with the Dalai Lama, so I decided to ask our visitor to wait. I introduced Joe to our prospective client upon his return. They disappeared into Joe’s office for two hours, finally emerging, shaking hands, and the man departed. Joe turned and smiled at me.
“Why did you ask him to wait for me?” he asked.
“Because you just never know,” I replied.
Joe then related that our new client was indeed wealthy, knew almost to the penny the amount of money he had in various bank accounts, CDs and stock portfolios, owned a number of residential and commercial properties, and knew his stockbroker’s and accountant’s phone numbers by heart, both of whom confirmed everything. He wrote Joe a check for a large retainer and eventually became one of our favorite clients. We even worked along side him at one of the annual Hosea Williams Christmas Dinners for the Homeless.
I have been “financially challenged” and despondent, but then the mailbox contained a check from someone repaying an old loan between friends. The check was mailed several days before I even knew it was needed. I’ve met people who entered my life at the perfect time to give me moral support or a job, or made me laugh when it seemed I had nothing about which to laugh. I’ve even walked into places I would normally avoid, not really knowing why I was doing so, and found exactly the person, place or opportunity I was seeking elsewhere.
I believe a seemingly homeless person smelling of alcohol is only one way God — or destiny — gives us to put aside what is familiar and safe in life in order to find value, opportunity, friendship, love or other relationship that connects people with one another. The next time a stranger or unfamiliar situation comes your way, keep an open mind, because you just never know.
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