Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bum

A few months ago, I took my son and I to a TSO concert.  One of my favorite songs of that band is, "Old City Bar" - it reminds me of many things in life: helping others, humility, hope.

On my way to school every day, I take different routes primarily dependent on my mood.  If I'm in a cheery mood, and unhurried, I take the route through town which is much shorter mileage wise, but more time consuming.  Although a highway, it was filled with stoplights.

The other route takes me through the capital city.  To get from one interstate to the other, you have to get off the one, stop at a light, take a city street, and pick up the other.  At that street light, there is always a homeless man: rags, can, sign, ratty hat, dirty disheveled clothing, and a smile.

He sings.  He dances.  He plays music that you can hear if you have the windows rolled down.

A few weeks ago in my Escalade, I watched other cars (Prius and Honda owners; Suburu's and Fiesta folks) give him some money.  Guilt washed over me a little.  How close I've come to living like him - or at least feeling like I might end up like him.  I rolled down my window and gave him what little cash I had (I never carry more than a couple bucks).

He is missing fingers on his hands, easily covered by the huge woolen mittens he wears but you can see they are missing.  The way he holds his hand.

Each day since then, if he's been there, I've given him something.  Maybe $1 in coins, or $2... today I had exactly $0.27.  He cheerily took it, dropped it into his can.

The light didn't change.

And I remembered, a DQ card leftover from my days at the physician network was in my purse.

Rolling down the window, I motioned him over and gave it to him, "I don't know how much is on it but it's all yours.  There should be enough for a burger or two."

His eyes welled up.  He could barely speak... but mumbled, "I hope God blesses you!"  I think he perked up a little.

He already did sir.  In a sad way, he reminded me of how lucky I really am.  Generally speaking, I have found most homeless people to not choose that way of life, they are mentally ill unable to conform to a society they do not understand.

As my days wind down in school, I will continue to bring change for him... and roo that day when it ends.  I will miss seeing his happy face and the reminder of how good I really have it.

Make it a great day!

4 comments:

NP Odyssey said...

A social worker at the free clinic I volunteered at told me this.
He keeps clean new socks in his car, like those 12 packs you see at Costco. And McDonald's give certificates. Working with the homeless he says a new clean pair of socks is like gold. At stop lights he then hands them a rolled-up new pair of socks with a coupon stuck inside.
Blessings to all those who help.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Oh, NP! What a fabulous idea!!

I'll be buying socks this weekend, so when I next head to school, I can do just that.

Thank you!!

Slamdunk said...

Simple acts that can make so big of a difference.

Thanks for making us think how we can best help the same folks in our own communities.

Lydia Kang said...

Hey,nice to meet you! Sometimes what seems like a little thing to you is so big for others. We should all give more often. :)