My Good Friend, Doc
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
I work at a coffee shop down a few blocks from Capitol Hill.
It is a busy little area filled with TONS of interesting characters and fascinating stories alike.
I have always been inclined to ask people, “What do you do?” whenever they enter the coffee shop doors.
I want to learn from them.
I want to hear their stories and experiences.
I can honestly say I have met some incredible people, and of course, some not so incredible people.
But I love it.
However, I have never met a more kind, caring, noteworthy, and charismatic personality than my good friend, Doc.
Doc is homeless.
He is an old man who sits outside our storefront and asks for change from people passing by.
The first few times I saw Doc, I, like everyone else, brushed him aside.
I am ashamed to admit this, but it’s true.
I would walk past him, lower my eyes, look at my phone screen with no messages on it, ignore his, “Have a beautiful day!” and continue on with my day as was planned.
Until I started having to fetch papers from the bin next to where Doc sat.
See at my coffee shop, we sell newspapers each day and we collect the recent editions from a bin right outside our storefront. This is the same place that Doc sets up and tears down his little area each day.
Was I scared to have to fetch the papers from next to Doc’s spot? Absolutely not. But, did I anticipate the impact he would have on my life? Absolutely not.
I walked outside the first day I opened the store, and I smiled and said, “Good morning!” I knelt down next to Doc chairs and placed the key into the lock to open the newspaper bin.
The man smiled down at me (this was before I knew his name).
“Good morning, young lady! I hope you have a blessed day today!”
Never did he ask for money. Never did he pry me for things. Never did he make me feel uncomfortable. Never did he fail to make me smile.
The next day went similar to the first. I said, “Good morning! How are you?” The man answered, “I am a wonderful, young lady. I cannot complain in this nice weather.” I fetched the papers, told him to have a good day, and went back inside.
That was the first day I got my order for “Doc.”
A regular of ours came into the shop. Her name was Nicki. She was a confident, compassionate, and fashion-forward woman who never failed to impress us with her outfits or especially around Halloween, her costumes.
She ordered her usual “Mocha Monday,” drink, but then she ordered a “Hot Chocolate” for the man sitting outside.
I asked her if she knew his name and she said, “He is always out front. His name is Doc.”
Nicki picked up her order and walked outside to give Doc his hot chocolate.
The beaming smile on Doc’s face could have lit up an entire neighborhood street.
He was beside himself. It was as if nothing else in the entire world was as wonderful as that one hot chocolate.
How often to I beam at a hot chocolate? Never. How often do I appreciate the little things in my life? Rarely.
I was slightly taken about by both the happiness portrayed in Doc’s face and the kindness of Nicki’s heart.
The next day, I went out to fetch the papers and I caught the man off-guard. “Good morning, Doc! How are you today?”
He smiled down at me and said, “How do you know my name?” I replied with, “You are pretty popular around this part of town. Everyone really likes you.” Doc giggled and rocked in his chair. He said, “I’m popular cuz of my eye patch. It makes me stand out and this is how I get all the ladies.” Doc laughed out loud at his own joke and he asked me for my name. I replied with, “My name is Emily.” “Emily, that is a beautiful name. I hope God blesses your day, Emily, and the coffee shop doesn’t get too busy for you today.”
With that, I entered back inside and worked away the day. When I left that day, I took a treat out to Doc. We had a whole lot of day-old cookies in the shop that we could no longer sell. I gave Doc an oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie and bid him a good day.
From that day on, Doc became a friend. He was not just another homeless man on the street who I averted my eyes from at all costs. I looked forward to speaking to him each day. I asked him more about himself and he reciprocated the curiosity. I found out he has grandsons whom he is helping to raise. He gives every single penny he gets to his young boys. He cannot work due to glaucoma in one eye and hip and knee problems, which have debilitated him from being able to walk. I learned he has never ever been in a bad mood since I met him. He cares about stray dogs and cats a lot and I often find myself talking him out of taking all of them home. He loves the quiet mornings but isn’t a huge fan of the busy afternoons.
I found out he is one of the most beautiful souls DC has to offer.
This man has nothing and yet expresses being the wealthiest and happiest human alive.
I have never heard him complain.
I have never seen him “miss a day of work.”
I have never seen him scold people who do not give him money.
In fact, he never even asks.
He always welcomes people with, “Hello, how is your day going?” And when they don’t answer and walk away, he leaves them with, “May God bless your day!”
He is never phased by what people think of him or how they treat him.
He is beyond grateful for a hot chocolate or a “hello” from a passerby.
He exemplifies what it means to be happy.
I now find myself living my days like Doc.
A homeless man who I ignored out of fear that there was something wrong with him, or that he was annoying, or that he was lazy and just asked for money all day. All of these things of which I am greatly ashamed by.
I try to look on the bright side. Enjoy life’s little gifts and wonders.
I greet people and don’t take offense when they are too involved with their screens.
I’m working on my complaining and my negative outlooks.
I order hot chocolate and smile like the world is the most beautiful place ever.
Because it is.
Doc is one of the most genuine souls that I have ever met here.
And for that, I am most thankful.