The woman and her vanilla powder

So earlier tonight I was sitting in Starbucks, doing some work on this site. A woman asked if she could sit at my table, which was quite large. “Sure,” I said.

She was ragged looking, but not terribly ragged looking. She held two or three small cups, and I didn’t pay her much mind … until she started digging her thumb deep into one of the cups, desperately trying to lick out and lingering globs of chocolate syrup. This held my interest until she rose, walked to the nearby condiments station and returned with the little jar of vanilla powder. She twisted off the cap and dumped all of the powder—like, a huge clump—into her empty cup. Then she downed the entire thing in one giant gulp. I like vanilla powder as much as the next guy, but, well, it was sorta nasty.

I started to think that, perhaps, she was homeless. Or at least severely down on her luck. Then I decided I’d offer to buy her a beverage. Then I changed my mind. As I told my wife later, “There’s a genuine lack of dignity associated with homelessness. Maybe she just wanted to blend in.” Plus, I wasn’t even sure she was homeless. Maybe she was just dirty and a fan of vanilla.

No matter the case, I sit here, feeling quite guilty.

I should have offered the drink.