"Man, I'm just tired."
Tyrese wasn't talking about needing a nap. Life's been beating him down. It was obvious in his broken, tired eyes. Last night I walked from our apartment over to meet my wife for dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Fancy Nancy, on Bedford. As I approached the KFC on the corner across the street from Fancy Nancy, this fine man approached me with what I assumed was going to be a request for money. Before he could even ask, I told him I didn't have any cash on me. But I was sympathetic to his plight and I tried to pour as much honest love and compassion into his empty well as possible—which took the form of a 7-minute conversation across the street from my destination. In this brief encounter, Tyrese busted out a rhyme, then told me he had HIV and a cancerous metastasized tumor near his sternum—which he insisted I feel. I told him I wanted to hear more of his story and do what I could to help, but I was on my way to dinner with my wife. I let him know that we lived 4 blocks away near Franklin and Greene, and I hoped our paths crossed again soon.
Soon came quicker than I anticipated, as I ran into Tyrese today, less than 24 hours later, when I was running an errand in the cold rain 2 blocks away. The autumn chill has arrived, and Tyrese's teeth were chattering in the cold rain. So I gave him enough money for coffee and a subway ride, where he can stay warm. We were both getting choked up talking as Tyrese shared some of his struggles, which he writes about in the journals he keeps in his backpack. I recently found out about someone I knew years ago who just committed suicide, so I've been extra attuned to anyone who might possibly be at the end of their rope.
Tyrese asked me for a hug before we went our separate ways, then agreed to come back tomorrow morning to share more of his story with me on video. I want to find out how he got here and if there's anything I can do to help. Compassionate listening never hurts. Check back for more of Tyrese's story soon. That is, if he comes back tomorrow. I'm sure some of you out there are skeptical about the whole thing. But I'm betting on the man.
Posted on 10.27.16
FOLLOW UP: Well, I went to meet up with Tyrese this morning and he was a no-show. I waited for 30 minutes and he never arrived. Maybe he took my measly five bucks and was ready to move on. Maybe he got stuck in another part of town. Am I sucker for having trusted him? Who knows. It certainly won't keep me from reaching out to help in the future. I hope our paths cross again.
Posted on 10.28.16