Don’t want to be judged? Don’t judge

Every single day I learn something new over here. I encounter situations and people I probably wouldn’t have encountered anywhere else. I keep meeting people who make me re-think many issues and even look at life from an entirely different perspective.

That’s exactly what happened a couple of days ago, as I started to a certain older gentleman I kept seeing around for some time now. He smiled and asked the classic American question: “How are you?”, to which I said I was good asked about how he was. “Fantastic!”, he replied, and then added that the day may be more difficult for him than usual since he’s working a double shift. I asked him where he works and he told me he’s employed at a homeless shelter in downtown Manhattan.

The place differs from many similar establishments in that it helps the homeless get a job and get back on track. After a while, part of them are back at work and find their own places. When I asked the man whether the job was difficult, he said it can be, but it’s not that bad overall. When I told him I wouldn’t know a thing about it, since I never knew anyone that was homeless, he said: “Now you do!”. He told me he used to be an alcoholic and that at one point he had lost everything and truly hit the rocks. He understood that this was a final call for him. He went to the shelter, spent a year there and changed his life. After that, he was offered a job at another homeless shelter.

All that was a couple of years ago. Nowadays the man lives in Queens and considers himself happy. He told me: “It’s not easy, but it’s possible for a man to achieve what he really wants. You need to really want it and really understand what it is that’s your problem in getting it”. Ever since I remember seeing him, the guy has always been smiling, kind and never complained about anything. Not for a moment did I think that he had undergone such a harsh lesson in life, which made me think again about two things. First: don’t judge people, for you really don’t know who they are, what they went through and what is happening in their lives. Second: don’t be too sure of what it is that life has in store for you because you cannot know what the next day is going to bring.