Most of the time I am fairly immune to the sales pitch of individuals selling small packs of tissue. While I realize that it is a way for the elderly and those with challenges to make some cash, I also know it is impossible to help everyone. My general rule is to politely say no. My rule was stretched, challenged, and eventually broken by a man that looked old enough to be my grandfather. It wasn’t the age that touched me. It was his willingness to push on, stay positive, and stand up to whatever life threw at him.
He had a resolute smile. He back was hunched and his walk was a struggle, yet he carried on with a face at peace with the world. I do not think he could see well due to the cataracts in both eyes. Everything screamed that the world had extracted its price. I was sure that my sense of appreciation for what he had gone through was significantly short of reality.
As he approach, I did not get the pitiful sales pitch. It was merely an offer to provide a product that I might need for my meal. Singapore’s hawker food courts have a unique twist in the world – there are no napkins. People bring their own tissue. At times some vendors provide tissue as a kind of rebate for frequently their stall. The juice stand I often go to is one of them, but he is unusual. If you forget to bring tissue, it can be a challenge.
As I reached into my pocket for change, I wondered what I would say if I was in his shoes. I know I would find it hard not to include the words in my sales pitch; “My heart’s about to break; I’m a burned-out case. Cataracts blind me to God and good.” (Psalm 38.10) As I received the tissue I found myself holding onto hope. This elderly man is a living example of standing up for possibilities. With each step I heard his mantra, “no sighs allowed, only Hope”.