Kindness in the form of a cup & a plug

Wil Reynolds
4 min readFeb 14, 2024

This morning, I’m sick. Some kind of brutal stomach bug. I got ready to brew my coffee and while it was brewing, I looked out my window.

There was someone under blankets shaking, a lot.

My block has probably 35 residences, I am one of only 2 with a window that faces the street. The new design in my neighborhood (which used to be a ton of warehouses) looks like this, all the homes face each other, and garages on the first floor.

As I prepared my coffee I noticed that someone was curled up in a bunch of blankets… shivering underneath of those blankets. It is maybe 30 degrees out at best. The identity of the person was obscured by the layers of fabric, their humanity was there in plain sight, but if they were black or white, woman or man, child or adult.

I decided that I’d take my morning cup and give it to whoever was under there, but I admit I delayed for 2 minutes. I was faced with that decision.

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows…I love city life, and I dislike a lot about it too, but I stay because it gives me multiple opportunities every day to help someone who might need it, as I see people struggling some days and I choose to stay here and try to be a part of the solution. Monday I walked to Community College to help underdog entrepreneurs. Today I walked out my front door to help someone.

I married the right chick

And as my wife started backing out of the driveway to take the kids to school, she came back in the house. She said, I’m going to get him something. I told her I was already on it, she pointed me to where the disposable mugs were and I poured the coffee out of my mug and into the cardboard cup, put on my jacket and sat it next to him. I could see him moving, but he never responded when I said, repeatedly…there’s hot coffee by your feet. I walked back inside and looked out.

Waking up this guys struggles were apparent, He definitely has mental health problems he is also definitely is somebody’s son or uncle or father or husband.

We “optimize” for kindness in this house. Every day I ask my kids this simple question “what did you do kind today” or my back up “did you see kindness today” got to see their mother and father help an unknown man or woman underneath the blankets. They will either answer that question today with a way they were kind to someone, or I gave them something to say back…we saw you and mama help someone on the streets.

It was a silent agreement of shared values, we extend a hand in this family.

I get to confront my beliefs daily

It’s easy to talk about homelessness, but living in the city, you live close to people, very close, to all kinds of people. And some of those people need help. It’s a daily confrontation with a choice: the comfort of routine, or buying into the “danger” the news would like us to believe or lean into the discomfort of engagement. Am I going to step over this person and get my day started, or am I going to brew them a cup of coffee & sit it next to them?

This moment wasn’t just about a cup of coffee. It was a reminder of why I cherish city life, for all of its bumps and bruises. It’s a life filled with moments that challenge us to act, to reflect on our humanity and our connection to others. Some days, it’s just helping somebody with their bags… Sometimes it’s just saying hello… And some days, you look at a blue blanket moving up and down, and you know that it doesn’t take much to put a cup of coffee out next to somebody and say to them, here’s a cup of coffee.

While I gotcha here…there’s another story I’ve been meaning to tell…

The plug

The first 3 weeks of moving into my new home, I saw on the security camera some homeless person was on my front steps. Charging their phone. Grrrrrr, I just moved into this home after dreaming of it for 7 years and now I got someone leaving their stuff on my front step! I was hot also, my kids and wife are inside.

I had a choice to make do I get a plug with a lock on the front, have it removed, turn off the breaker? After all, I don’t want people stopping by every day charging their phones. It seemed like a normal, natural decision. But then I thought of my experiences hearing from homeless youth over the years, that phone is sometimes their only lifeline.

This month I “celebrate” 2 years in my house, people have charged on my stoop, some have even damaged the plug, meaning I have already had to pay someone to come out. Not to lock it up, or brick it over, but to fix it. So it works for the next person who comes along. Come to think of it. I have never used that plug on the front of my house, but I have seen 6–10 people who have.

If that is my small contribution that once every 18–24 months I gotta repair it, I’m ok with that.

I challenge default states…default is lock it or brick it over for “safety”, what default state are you in that you aren’t questioning?



Wil Reynolds

Serial Underdog @seerinteractive doing SEO, Marketing, & Stuff, I am whatever you say I am.