On a trip to the west coast, friends told me not to leave without buying the sourdough bread. I bought it from a vendor on the street and took it over to Starbucks while my husband took a business call. I sat there picking at what was left of it while I drank my expensive fancy coffee drink. They were not kidding about how big it was.
Through the glass a man stood off to the side but not quite facing us. He had on cargo pants and a jacket over his clothes. A heavy backpack was on his shoulders. He had a sign by him that said, “Wants $ for WEED”.
Well at least he is honest.
Sipping my overpriced latte, I watched.
He looked a bit rough around the edges but didn’t seem scary or crazy. People passing by would toss him some money or stop to chat for a minute.
Someone handed him their leftovers. He took it out, sniffed the food, and shrugged. Then, he pulled out a fork from the side of the backpack and began to eat.
My mind kept wondering where he had been in life that brought him to this point.
Does his mother know where he is? His wife if there is one? Children? What about his family? Could he be a veteran? Is there a mental health issue? Did he just totally screw up?
What do you do when your life comes to this?
The bread and the coffee didn’t taste so good anymore. I felt guilty for even having so much to eat. My husband hung up the phone and said he was ready to leave. He threw away my leftovers as we left. Walking by this man on the other side of the glass, I made eye contact expecting something and yet even now, I don’t know how to explain what.
We ended up crossing the street to have lunch. I could still see him from where we sat at a table for two. My husband took yet another call. Telling him I would be right back, I ran across the busy street avoiding all of the cars, right past the homeless man and headed into a store. I had to do something. Even if something was just little. Perhaps it would help for today.
Taking hardly anytime at all to find what I wanted, I tossed the sandwich, chips, and drinks onto the belt. I quickly handed over my credit card as the items were bagged up. Taking the bag, I walked outside and right up to him.
I didn’t know what to say. We made eye contact…again. I mumbled here, this is for you, and he said thank you. My feet slowly turned away and I started walking back.
Looking this way and that as I moved down the block and crossed the street, I counted 4 more homeless people that I didn’t see before.
In that moment, I felt empty and awful. Did I even make a difference? There were too many and I couldn’t help them all.
Opening the door to the restaurant, I sat down and told my husband that I didn’t really have an appetite as I gazed back out the window… wondering.
This is day 9 of the NaBloPoMo daily blogging challenge. Thank you for reading!