Saturday, January 9, 2016
Lunch with a homeless man
At some point he got up and started wondering around, going outside to smoke a couple of times. He eventually came over and asked to use the phone on my desk. He had just become homeless, and told me a bit about why in explanation as to why he had to call the courthouse. He made his call, thanked me; then went over to watch TV while waiting for the hospital pharmacy to open.
During the next couple of hours, he used my phone a few more times and asked directions to the courthouse and for information about homeless shelters in the area; and I provided him a list. He was very polite and decent looking, a guy a year older than me.
I was about to head for lunch at 11, and he came over, apologized for bothering me again; and asked me if there was any way he could get a sandwich. I looked at him and thought for a moment. The best the Emergency Department does for a released patient is a can of ginger ale or orange juice, and some crackers and peanut butter. Making a quick decision, I told him to come with me. I waited while he grabbed his bags, and headed for the snack/coffee shop in the lobby.
As we entered the snack shop, I asked him if he liked tacos. Upon an affirmative answer, I told the lady behind the counter to give us two waling tacos. (A bag of Doritos that is opened and the makings of a taco is added to the bag of Doritos). As we waited for them to be made, I grabbed us a cup and told him to get a drink; which comes with the taco. He told me a few times he appreciated it as we waited. As the lady handed us our walking tacos and a plate to dump them on, he asked "is it OK if I eat with you?" I said "of course".
We sat down at a booth and began to eat. I usually do stuff on my cell as I eat on break, but I sat and talked..... or mostly listened to him as he shared his story. There was the occasional comment about the walking taco, which he had never had before, and another thank-you or two; but he mostly talked about what got him to where he is right now..... homeless.
At one point, he mentioned God having a purpose in all of it, then said "Sorry to get religious on you." I told him that was fine, and that I was a Christian.
At the end of my half hour lunch, he shook my hand and thanked me again. I tried to offer him some advice on how to get some help, then headed over to pay. I told him to grab a candy bar for later, and added it to my tab; then we went our separate ways.
We may have parted ways, but he has been in my thoughts ever since. It felt good to help him out in the small way I did, but I found myself wishing I could have done more. I would have liked to have given him a little cash, but alcohol got him into the trouble he is in; and I was afraid he might buy more or buy cigarettes.
Due to his situation and lack of transportation, he will most likely spend the weekend on the streets..... in not very warm weather. If he was telling me the truth.... and I believe he was.... he has nowhere to go, no family; just a now ex-girlfriend who kicked him out and filed a restraining order against him because of alcohol.
He is one year older than I am, and that could be me. I could be the one without a home. I could be the one with no family around to go to. There, but for the grace of God go I.
Hurting and needy people are all around us. We can all do something, even if it is buying a meal for someone who has no money or home. May God help me do more for people when He gives me the opportunity. That is when we are most like Jesus.