On the hottest day of the year I was fanning myself vigorously in the intake office. The room had zero circulation. One of our older community members came in with a striking straw hat. It really suited him, particularly on this day. I remarked on it. He immediately took off his hat and offered it to me. I assumed this was just a gesture of politeness. I gently demurred. He was a new Canadian from a culture that is incredibly hospitable and generous even in time of need. He insisted saying he had more such hats at home. I continued to decline. Reluctantly he replaced the hat on his head. I think he was insulted.
It then occurred to me that this might explain why he had difficulty “following the rules”. More than once we had to remind him to only take one of each item from the dry-food table. I had perceived his persistence in taking more than one item as “cheating”. However, from his perspective, he could not understand why he should only take one item when there were plenty more on the table. We were being bad hosts. God give us the gift of empathy.