I walked into a deli to order a sandwich when a sweet voice asked, "Is there a seat I can sit where it is warmer?"
No one responded to her, so I turned to look toward the voice and instantly recognized her being blind. "Noo, there aren't any seats any warmer than the one you are sitting in." I said to her.
"What's your name?" She asked me, eager for conversation.
"My name is Shawn." I replied. "What is yours?"
"My name is Suzie." She smiled. "Are you enjoying your day so far, Shawn?"
"Yes, " I replied. "Are you?"
"Oh yes! I come here once a week for a sandwich. Do you come here often, Shawn?"
"No, it's my first time."
"Did you have a nice Christmas, Shawn?"
"Oh yes! Did you?" I inquired.
"Yes! I got leg warmers!"
Right then, the guy behind the counter told me my sandwich was ready.
"My sandwich is ready. I need to go now," I said to her.
"Shawn? Before you go, can you see if I've dropped any food on me? I tend to get so messy..."
I look down and there is a scattering of crumbs and tomato slices and lettuce remains. I ask for napkins behind the counter and cleaned her blouse off. "Thank you, Shawn. What do you do for a living?"
I said, "Today I'm designing fabric."
"Oh Shawn! I LOVE fabric!" she said.
I know she was more hungry for friendship than she was for her lunch. But I felt I had no friendship to offer a blind woman. I felt instantly small and puny and selfish.
I said goodbye and wandered out into the parking lot and as I drove off, I turned back to peek inside the deli window where Susie sat all alone. The napkin where I cleaned her off, was still crumpled in my hand, reminding me of what just took place.
I thought about Suzie and wondered how she got up the courage to eat at the deli each week by herself. I thought of her seeing a person as they really are without judgment. And I thought of my judgement without really seeing the person. I wondered how much more she sees than most of us ever will see.
I ate my turkey, bacon, avacado sandwich and when I was through, I looked down at the empty wrapper, still noticeably hungry for something more.