“This Is Not My Sandwich”

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Here is my second Smaller Dose. I hope you enjoyed the first Smaller Dose and decided to come back for more. It’s good that you came.

So here we go……….


Reading Time: 4 minutes

$7.55 changed the way I look at and feel about people.

June 10th, 2019. Center City Philadelphia. 8th & Market Streets.

It rained most of the morning. It stopped. I went outside to take a walk, get some fresh air, take a mental break and get a quick lunch before my next meeting. I couldn't decide what to eat. I stopped to get a sandwich, fries and a drink. I ordered, got my food and took a seat by the window and side-door, as that was all that was available. And, besides, I like people watching in our great city. I opened the bag, took out the sandwich and noticed that there were no napkins. And I made the decision to leave my food and walk over to the condiment station to get some. Bad decision. Or was it?

I walked away from my table and lunch. I was gone less than 15 seconds. And as I returned, a man grabbed my lunch bag and went out the door at a brisk pace, not knowing that I was just a few feet behind him. Or did he know and take a calculated risk?

What should I do?

What did I do?

I paused. I was in shock. Did this really just happen? I stood there motionless for three, four or five seconds. Maybe. Time stood still for me in that moment.

I grabbed my drink and ran outside after him. He quickly walked to the corner and down the stairs to the train station. By the time I got down there, he was gone.

I paused, walked up the stairs slowly and started to consider what just happened.

What would I have done if I caught and confronted him? Me in business attire and him in a ball cap and backpack. Should I have shouted, "Hey, you forgot my Dr. Pepper”?

Was he homeless? Was he an addict? Was he just hungry and did not want to wait in line like the rest of us? Did that matter?

Was this calculated, as perhaps he knew he could take something from someone close to the door and escape without being caught? Had he done this before? Was I his first? Or was this a conscious disregard of the social contract under which we presumably all operate?

If he would have asked me to buy him lunch, would I have done so or just ignored him?

Should I just be grateful that $7.55 is something that I can afford to lose, but that it might be a lot of money for him? Should I be grateful that it wasn't my cell phone, laptop computer, keys or something which would have caused a significant inconvenience?

Did this person view this as theft? Entitlement? Really hungry? His way of life? I don't know and never will.

Should I focus on gratitude and let it go?

Could I, perhaps, see this as the universe intervening as eating that sandwich would have made me sick?

So many different dimensions to ponder all because of this event. A teachable moment. An opportunity to learn and grow from it in some small way.


I walked back to my office, slowly, holding onto my Dr. Pepper, all that remained of my stolen lunch. Numb. In shock. Thinking of what happened. And pondering my thought process and how this event made me feel. Does this impact the way I look at humanity? And if it does, and I feel worse, does that make me part of the problem?


I had dinner that evening. A nice meal with my wife in our home. I'm grateful for that and so much more. I'll eventually forget about that $7.55 and perhaps the person who stole my lunch already forgot about it. I continue to wonder what lessons I am going to take away from my lunch experience on that day.

I know that stories like this, real stories, impact the way we look at life and the world. What would or could I have done differently? What did I learn and how will it help me be a better version of myself next time? Will I keep my bag of food with me and not trust anyone? Will I be cautious and suspicious of everyone when I am in the city? I'm not sure and that bothers me. I know that one data point should not bias a person to judge the whole of humanity as "bad". What happened was simply not in my world of possibilities of what could happen at lunch. And now it is. My view of humanity has changed over a stolen lunch.

Who do I blame? That was my initial thought. But there is no blame. It serves no purpose. The more important questions are what did I learn, what would I do differently and how might this event help to create a better version of myself? A very inexpensive lesson is what I’m thinking. Value far outweighs the cost. Don’t you think?


I hope you enjoyed my second Smaller Dose and have something new to consider along your journey of life. If you know of someone who might gain some benefit from this Dose, please share it and encourage them to sign-up.

Also consider purchasing and reading my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice, available in print and eBook formats exclusively on amazon.com. Click on the link below to purchase your copy today.

Small Doses available on Amazon

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Until next time……….

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