A few pieces of chicken and some French fries had a big impact for two women and, we hope, the tens of thousands of people who saw them on Facebook.
One evening, a woman named Carmen was out with her boyfriend at a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers location in a town in California. Also in the restaurant was a woman who was clearly homeless; she traveled from table to table, asking people if she could have the leftovers that they were otherwise planning to discard. Carmen says that “it broke [her] heart” to see that every other person simply ignored the woman and threw their food away when they were done.
Having volunteered helping the homeless for several years, Carmen had a soft spot for the needy. She told her boyfriend, Fred, that if the woman came to them before it was time for them to leave that she would donate whatever she had left.
As she was finishing, Carmen thought that the woman had already left, and felt sad that she had apparently gotten no meal for the night. However, just as she was about to throw away her food (which she describes as “one leftover chicken strip and like five fries”), the woman reappeared and quietly asked if Carmen would share her food. Carmen said yes, but felt another twinge of guilt as the homeless woman happily sat down to eat. Carmen slipped over to the counter and asked that the employees not make the woman leave (the other customers were clearly put off by her, and Carmen admits that “not all homeless people smell like roses”), and ordered a second full meal.
“I felt like a horrible human being feeding her my leftover chicken strip…” Carmen wrote later. “She deserved so much more…so I bought her a whole meal…she deserved to eat a hot meal.”
Just as the homeless woman was getting ready to leave, Carmen surprised her with the new set of hot chicken strips. She was so happy that she hugged Carmen and started to cry.
“That hug she gave me was like a hug I had never felt… those tears she shed were felt deep in my heart. I held her tight and let her let it out,” Carmen wrote.
Unbeknownst to either woman at the time, the boyfriend, Fred, took this opportunity to snap a picture of the pair hugging with his cell phone. Carmen was unsure about putting it up on social media, but ultimately chose to put it on Facebook, in the hope that it would make a point to people about having compassion for the less fortunate.
It worked, though neither she nor Fred probably expected it to be so successful: the photo went viral, and at the time of this writing has been shared over 70,000 times, with people clearly touched by her generosity and compassion.
So the next time that you find yourself bothered by a bum on the street, try not to be put off, and if you can, try to go beyond just feeling sad for them and then moving on with your life. It does not necessarily take a lot to make someone who has nothing happy; in this case, all it took was a few pieces of chicken and some fries, with a welcoming shoulder to cry on thrown in for good measure.