Where is the Compassion?

Yesterday I was enjoying the company of a worthy sparring partner while sitting outside at a little bar downtown. As we were taking a break between rounds a gentleman in a wheelchair was talking to the waitress standing at the table next to ours. As he started to pass our table I engaged him in conversation. Yes, I pretty much engage anyone, anytime in conversation.

He was a lovely man offering suggestions and advice as we all enjoyed ourselves just taking a break from the day. This man was also just a bit down on his luck, without hesitation my friend gave him a few bucks. With that the waitress leaned out of the bar and told him he had to go. We were all a little shocked and the gentleman was clearly embarrassed. I was glad we were the only ones outside at the time for his sake.

Inside the bar the waitress told me this man panhandles all the time and they have told him he cannot do that anymore. I gently told her that I appreciate her position; however on this day I invited him into conversation, he asked for nothing and my friend being a giving person offered the money with no prodding or suggestion from the gentleman. She was very sweet and apologized, I understood she was in a difficult position and just trying to make sure we were not upset.

I returned to the table and the two men were wrapping up the conversation and saying their goodbyes. That is when the owner came out of the bar and stood above the gentleman and told him he must leave, he is not allowed to be there – in fact he told him to get out now because he was bad for business pretty much in a very condescending and arrogant manner.

Seriously? First of all, we invited this man to join us, second the point had already been made, and lastly, who the hell did the owner think he was? He may have owned the bar but he sure as hell did not owe the sidewalk. Was it really necessary to belittle this man any more than what had already happened? Did it make the owner feel like more of a man to stand over someone in a wheel chair and speak in a condescending and aggressive tone?

I don’t know what this gentleman did before that day, all I know is on that day he was treated with respect and friendliness for just a few moments before someone had to come and stomp all over his self-worth. Have we lost the sense of compassion in the name of business? What would be bad for business or make you possibly look bad in someone else’s eyes is going to rule common decency? Can we not look at another and see ourselves while remembering the golden rule of treating one like you would like to be treated?

I was impressed and saddened with our new friends ability to keep his head up and move away quietly from our table. How often has he been treated like this that he is able to not say a word or show any emotion in being turned away? I think would have cried if it were me; but he was stoic and even told us to enjoy the rest of our evening. He has gotten to the point that it has become a part of him. That saddens me. And the fact that the owner had incorporated the air of arrogance, superiority and lack of empathy into who he is also saddens me.

Have you gotten so wrapped up in your own world that you cannot look out and see someone else for who they are and not what they represent at the present time in their life? I have two saying running through my head about this whole incident:

“Careful how you treat people, those you meet going up are the same ones you will see coming down.”


“Karma’s a bitch”

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Transition Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

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