Carmen Mendez and her boyfriend were enjoying a meal at local restaurant in San Francisco when they noticed what appeared to be a homeless woman approaching diners and asking for their leftovers. Over and over again, the couple watched people ignore her or turn her away, opting instead to throw away what they didn’t eat.
She was hungry and asking for people’s leftover food.
Mendez felt it in her gut: that empathy and compassion that leaves the “have’s” needing to make an on the spot decision on whether or not they will give to the “have not’s.” It can be uncomfortable and awkward for some, but her decision was without hesitation. When Mendez had finished her meal, she gave her leftovers to the woman.
But that wasn’t enough.
Though the woman was grateful and sat down to eat the food, Mendez couldn’t help feeling that wasn’t enough. So she ordered another meal and gave it to the woman.
I debated posting this picture but considering that today many of us are gonna be thankful for what we have and are gonna be spending it with those we, love eating very yummy food, I changed my mind. I didn’t know my boyfriend had captured this moment. A couple of day’s ago we went to eat late at night @raisingcanes and as we waited for our order i saw this homeless lady walk in and asking people that were throwing away there leftovers if she could have them. Not one person said yes, they all ignored her and threw it away it broke my heart…I have been volunteering with the homeless now for many years… they don’t repulse me or make me sick to my stomach. I hold them all with so much love. So I told Fred if I see her before we are done eating I will give her my food. I looked for her as we were getting ready to leave and couldn’t find her…..I felt sad knowing all the rejection she had that night searching for a warm meal. As I was gonna throw away my one leftover chicken strip and like 5 fries I heard a very quite voice ask me if I had anything left. I turned around and it was her..l gave her my food and watched her sit and eat it…..but something didn’t feel right…I felt like a horrible human being feeding her my leftover chicken strip..she deserved so much more…so I bought her a whole meal..she deserved to eat a hot meal. When I ordered the meal I asked the employee for a huge favor to please do not kick her out as we waited…I could already see the disgust on people’s faces as she sat at the table eating the leftovers I had given her….news flash people not all homeless people smell like roses. She was getting ready to get up and leave when I surprised her with this meal….the look on her face said it all…I have never felt something like this…pure, real gratitude. 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. I wasn’t repulsed by it….I just held her. And that is a moment I will never ever forget. So next time u judge a homeless person think twice…not all of them are homeless because of a drug addiction or because they are lazy.
The women both became emotional and hugged in a brief moment that brought tears and an instant connection between two strangers. Mendez’s boyfriend couldn’t help himself. He took a quick snapshot of the two, capturing the moment in a picture that Mendez would later decide to post on Instagram.
Who is helping who?
The message she wrote to accompany the photo was a heartfelt recollection of what had transpired and words of gratitude for a “moment I will never ever forget.” In reading what Mendez wrote it might be difficult to discern who benefited more from their moment together, and perhaps that explains why her post went viral.