Most mornings I get off at the same subway stop on my way to work and go past the homeless shelter the last seven blocks to my office. If I go one stop further, it's a shorter walk but I always stop in the same breakfast bar on the further walk and get coffee and a cup of cut-up fruit.
This route takes me past Gloria, a homeless woman who stands on a corner across from the shelter and greets passerbys with a wish that Jesus will bless them. To most of us, homeless people are anonymous and we ignore them as there are far too many for us to help them as individuals.
I stopped one day and asked her her name, and told her mine. Now when I see her I say hello using her name, and she calls out a greeting to me using my name.
Once a week I give her a dollar when I pass. I told this routine to a friend once, who mockingly said she hoped Gloria didn't spend such largess all in one place. That response to my effort to interject a little humanity really pissed me off.