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Black Coffee And A Breakfast Sandwich

Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I've never shared this story publicly or really with anyone other than Ailina. One of my favorite acts of kindness to do for others is a simple one, it's very rewarding and it just feels good:

Black Coffee And A Breakfast Sandwich

I used to drive from San Diego to The SF Bay Area twice per month to keep up with my monthly visits with Wyatt when he was little. Yes, that totals 2,000 miles per month of being on the road, mostly alone. I like road trips for the freedom of them, the think-time, the books on tape aka mobile university opportunity and of course the sights you see along the journey. But, at times, especially late at night with no sights to see on 500 miles of Highway 5, it's a tad lonley.

This loneliness became key to discovering my empathy, an emotion I discovered during these years. See, I've never felt sorry for homeless people, mostly because I once was homeless when I was 16, living in my car. My attitude was, "If I can do it, you can do it" - given I got myself off the streets by age 17. But, that was both youthful angst and a harsh black & white mentality. Given what I know now about mental illness in general and working with Veterans, some who very much suffer from PTSD - I feel differently. Not everyone on the street is a drug addict; I certainly wasn't yet there I was once living in my car.

The Bay Area's icy wind cuts to the bone and it was freezing cold outside, this particular 46 degree February morning in 2004.  This was the morning my attitude changed. I stopped at a Starbucks on the way out of town from San Mateo back to San Diego. It was very dark at  4:30AM and as I walked down the sidewalk towards the shop entrance I was startled by a homeless man in a doorway, ironically whom I had startled equally. I don't know why, but I said "good morning sir" and he smiled at me as I kept walking.  But what struck me, as I stood in line for my coffee and breakfast was how lonely he looked, and yet how my greeting him was almost a brief mutual blessing of connection. Perplexed.

I ordered my food and coffee and sat down. Why was this guy still on my mind, I walk by many homeless unfortunately in San Diego and in San Francisco with little regard most of the time up till that point. He just not only seemed so cold, but so lonely. I remember how lonely sleeping in my car felt as a kid. My food was ready and I started to leave and then the thought hit me hard. "I can't walk by that guy with my hot food and coffee and act like he's not there." In a confused huff, I got back in line and ordered a copy of my breakfast.


On the way out I stopped at his spot and as he looked at me I handed him a bag with a breakfast sandwich and squatted down to hand him his coffee. "It's Black Coffee And A Breakfast Sandwich to warm you up. They'd have to let you inside to eat it if you want to get out of this doorway."

His haggard, heavily bearded face broke from surprise into a big smile as he reached for the food and he said "Oh Really? For me? Oh my God Bless you son." 

I just smiled back and said "Have a good day friend." I walked back to my car and drove back to San Diego. But, ever since then, I've repeated this same gesture many times over, whenever I see a homeless person outside an eating establishment I'm on my way into. I'll never give them money; despite them not all being addicts, I've been around too many drug addicts and alcoholics in my own family and circle of friends when I was younger so it's a blanket policy; but I'll always feed them. The joy from this simple act of kindness has always been mutually beneficial. 
Givers Gain.







Image 1 by pixabay.com/users/myriams-fotos-ekg
Image 2 by REDioACTIVE from Pixabay night drive
Photo 3 by Quang Anh Ha Nguyen: https://www.pexels.com/
Photo 4 by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-s-face-34534/

Posted by

Thomas J. Nelson
REALTOR®, CRS, RCS-D, CDPE, e-Pro, Certified Military Home Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, Author, Keynote Speaker and  Podcast Host 

Serving Coastal San Diego from Carlsbad to Coronado, Downtown, Balboa Park Area,
La Jolla/UCSD & Mission Bay Park Areas
I Offer Rebates to Veterans
& Active Duty

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RCS-Divorce     Southern California Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, medical advice or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice, health or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Like you I don't hand them money, but I have often bought food and even pet food when I see a homeless person near where I am headed to shop. God nudges me.

Dec 16, 2023 09:44 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets

Sometimes I believe God is one of the homeless, appearing and testing me.

Dec 16, 2023 10:08 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

That was a wonderful thing you did, and still do, and I'm glad you shared it.

Dec 16, 2023 09:45 AM
Dennis Neal
RE/MAX, Big Bear - Big Bear Lake, CA
Your Home Sold in 21 Days or We Sell It For Free

Another outstanding re-post! This is truly a mindset shift that deserves to be highlighted and considered. Happy holidays and eagerly looking forward to more insightful reads in the coming year!

Dec 16, 2023 10:05 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

That's a heartwarming story, Thomas.  I think there are certain people and circumstances, that simply urge us to do something which may be out of our norm.  These experiences can be a treasure for both recipient and giver.

Dec 16, 2023 10:46 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Thomas, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Dec 16, 2023 10:47 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets I just noticed the Feature Fairies are still on the job and blessed this post with the Gold Star!  Well Deserved! 

Dec 16, 2023 11:09 AM
Elyse Berman, PA
LoKation Real Estate - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

Thomas, You are a good man.  My mother used to do the same thing.  She would see someone on the street in front of Dunkin Donuts.  She would never give them money, but always offered to buy them food. 

Congratulations on your feature!  It is, indeed, well deserved!

Dec 16, 2023 04:21 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Thomas- what can I say that the others haven't already said??!!!  What a beautiful story and no, you were not tooting your horn. My beliefs about homeless people changed with my friend's son. His car was broad-sided and he almost died. Unfortunately, it caused some neurological damage.  My friend pointed out to me that were it not for their resources, he might have ended up on the street like many of the homeless people we see on the streets. We never know the whole story. 

You showed that gentleman respect and kindness...and isn't that what we want!

Dec 16, 2023 05:02 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Thomas,

I love your story and I like Kathy Streib  believe you were not tooting your own horn but giving us an example of  kindness and what we can do to lighten someone's load and bring hope into their lives.

Dec 16, 2023 07:20 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Thanks for messing up my mascara this morning, Thomas! We had a friend who passed away some years ago, but he always carried change in his pockets and never passed a homeless person on the street in NY City without giving them some money. I did not take this as a story of tooting your own horn. It's a story of your humanity.

Dec 17, 2023 07:11 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Lovely story - and you've inspired me. I'm heading downtown today (Chicago where there are many homeless people) and I'll pass it forward. ❤️

Dec 17, 2023 07:38 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Thomas,
Thank you for sharing your story of transformation from "If I can do it, you can too" to empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. We don't need to know their story to be kind.

Dec 17, 2023 07:47 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing this story.

Let's continue to spread love and kindness every day.

Dec 17, 2023 12:13 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I recently heard a psychologist on the radio saying the giving can benefit the giver as much or more than the recipient. In your story, both of you enjoyed the benefits of your give.

Dec 17, 2023 12:57 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Thomas:

What a heartwarming act of kindness - I'm so glad you decided to share this with us. It's way so much about the kind of person you are.


Dec 17, 2023 05:03 PM
Aura Alex
Seattle, WA
Retired Real Estate Pro

Hello, Thomas.

In the face of this challenge, you stand as the one true champion, victorious with your heartfelt story! Congratulations!

No more words can be said, for others have already sung your praise. You have done magnificently! Thank you for this beautiful post.

Dec 18, 2023 09:28 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

This lovely post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, for your empathetic and kind heart.

Dec 19, 2023 09:57 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

I never forget a story from Steven Covey about a young father on a train whose kids were running around the carriage. People were getting irritated and the young father seemed oblivious, in his own little world. Eventually a woman said something to him, and he came out of his daze and apologized, telling the woman that his wife and the kids mother had died that morning. Suddenly, everything changed as peoples empathy kicked in and people reached to hug and cuddle the kids and distract them and give their father some time to grieve and work out what he was going to do next. 

We never know another person's situation, but we can always offer some help rather than a harsh word. Will we ever be taken advantage of, maybe, but overall the Karma we sow for ourselves is much larger and the return always beneficial as your post tells.

Thanks for sharing a have a wonderful and happy Holiday season and New Year.

Dec 19, 2023 10:37 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Those who undertake the most unselfish acts of kindness rarely share those actions with others.  Thank you for sharing the depth of your story.

Dec 19, 2023 07:38 PM
Gloria Todor
Premier Property Sales & Rentals - Springfield, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Thomas, Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your experience of being homeless seems to have raised your awareness and willingness to see and engage with those in need on the street. Wonderful acts of kindness.

Jan 02, 2024 02:30 PM