My name is Clare, I’m a sidewalk counsellor, and this is my story.
I want to share with you one of the stories that keeps me coming back to the street. We were late one morning, and we stopped at the traffic lights down the road. Something told me to grab my stuff and jump out of the car while my friend was at the wheel, running down the street just in case someone was already there. On my way, I literally ran into a couple coming in the same direction from the train station. We stopped, apologised quickly, and shared a laugh. I liked them immediately. They were probably about my age. He was a big guy, and had his arm around her. She had beautiful eyes.
‘What are you guys up to this morning?’ I asked. They stopped smiling, paused for a second, and looked at each other. There was a deathly silence. He struggled for words. ‘We’re … on our way…”
“…to the clinic?” I asked gently, gesturing to my regular spot on the street. They nodded and looked down. She rubbed her head with her hands.
We chatted for a little while about what was bringing them there. They didn’t really want to talk after that, and so I respected their privacy and left them with a leaflet of numbers they could call for confidential, free counselling at any time. When we parted ways I gave them one last word of encouragement: “I think you guys would make great parents, for what it’s worth.” I didn’t watch them walk away.
We went on with the rest of the morning, and the interaction completely left my mind until half an hour later I saw them leaving a coffee shop, arm in arm, holding the same pamphlets I’d given them. Crossing the street, they ran up to catch the train home.
They never walked into the clinic that day. The clinic always calls the police when that happens, because they’ve lost an appointment and therefore time and revenue. I’m sympathetic to their loss, but can’t help wonder if it’s for the best.
I don’t know if anything I said helped that couple make their decision that day, but I got to witness it happen. And that’s why I’m a sidewalk counsellor.
[Note: This testimony uses a pseudonym and stock image to preserve the identity of the woman involved.]