“Umm … I think I want pizza and for supper tonight Mama” that was Kay-Bugs response when I asked her what we should have for supper. I didn’t really want pizza but couldn’t think of anything else I specifically wanted more, so we called and ordered a couple pies from the local convenience store.
We had a half hour to kill before they were ready and had already gone on a nature walk, so I decided to hit the grocery store and pick up some stuff to go with supper. Chips …. check ….. soda ….. check ….. water for those of us trying to lose weight by drinking less soda …. ugh check.
While I was walking to the register I notice an older man, he was hard to miss standing there in clothing that most of us would consider rags, with long white hair and a giant white beard. He had a pull along suitcase with a cardboard sign tucked into it and was purchasing scratch tickets. I kept walking and didn’t think twice about it …..
When I walked outside I was approached by a young man asking if I had a dollar, I did and couldn’t tell him otherwise since I was holding my money in my hand, so I forked over a dollar. He then proceeded to ask me if I wanted to hang out tonight and told me his girlfriend stole his bank card because he had bought a beer ….. listen buddy you obviously bought the whole beer store!
So I was standing there with my four year old daughter trying to figure out what this guys problem was! Sure, come on over strange man and hang out with me and my child! It scares the hell out of me to think that there are girls out there that would do that! Can you imagine what Man-Child would have thought if I had come trotting back to the car with a stray? Can we keep him honey? Pleaassseee?
So I told him my boyfriend is right there in that red car and I have to go, enjoy the dollar!
Then it was time to grab our pizza! I went inside, selected a few more chocolate goodies, and walked out with my yummy food haul! Then I noticed him again, sitting on the stores picnic tables, he was scratching a ticket and from the look on his face, wasn’t very fortunate! We jumped in the car and started home ….
As we drove away I was suddenly over come with emotions and I couldn’t understand why. This man was clearly homeless and even though the suitcase could have easily led me to believe he was killing time waiting for a bus, the old torn clothing and obvious lack of hygiene told another tale. The scratch tickets warned me that he had money but maybe he was hoping for a bit more? Maybe he thought if he bought those, twenty dollars could turn into a hundred and buy him a warm bed and a shower tonight? Was it possible that he went without in hopes of having more?
Then I thought of the stupid man who asked for a dollar and a friend. This older man had asked me for nothing, even though he stared at the pizza in my hand the way I would stare at a pair of comfortable pajama pants, utter longing in his eyes! He had not approached me for anything, had just sat harmlessly on his picnic table. He had obviously been asking for help, the sign in his luggage told me that much, but he wasn’t harassing people who walked by like the other man had.
I told Man-Child to turn around.
We went back and I approached the older man who was now searching through his open suitcase. A suitcase that held very little and looked like my rag bucket at home! He put a sweatshirt on that was full of holes and stood looking around.
“Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help notice you had a suitcase and thought maybe you were waiting for a bus, could I offer you a couple pieces of pizza?” His face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Yeah, I would like some pizza sure!”
“What about soda, would you like a coke or Mountain Dew?” I had a twelve pack of each and was fully prepared to give him the whole thing!
“No that’s okay, I’ll get fat drinking those” it’s worth noting he was a round little fellow already but hey, I feel your pain brother!
“Well alright you hold right on” I grabbed him two slices of both pizzas and a bottle of my “lose weight not drinking soda” water.
When I brought back the food he looked relieved. Maybe I could have handed him money, but would he have bought food? He looked at me and our eyes met, no other words were needed, I knew what he wanted to say. He didn’t need to say thank you, I didn’t need him to. He didn’t need to fawn over me and how thoughtful I was, why embarrass him further?
The other man had responded to my kindness by asking for more, a whole lot more! Sheesh! This man responded by asking for nothing, he was grateful! I wish I could say I gave him money for a good nights sleep in a hotel room, but I can’t even afford that for myself! I wish I could have offered him more then a couple slices of pizza and a bottle of fat free water, but that’s all I had to give!
Who knows what his story is but what I do know is, it is a story that’s told way to often! I sit here with my pizza and water (ugh), watching T.V, writing this on my tablet, sitting in the living room of my apartment and I am thankful! I wonder where he is going to lay his head tonight? While I am warm in my bed snuggling with my baby, is he curled up in the woods? It breaks my heart!
The next time I wish for more, I’ll remember this man and how happy he was to just have a couple slices of pizza and a bottle of water!