The homeless sign

Do you remember how…I used to talk about the homeless people that walked up and down a particular busy intersection everyday, and every time I stopped at a red light, I was filled with doubt as to whether I should hand them something – anything?

Yesterday, I did.   I had stopped far enough back from the light that I had time to pull out some uneaten cantaloupe from a take out box.  I just hadn’t had time to touch it at work that day.

Sure enough, when I got closer to the light to turn left, it changed to a red.  And I was the second car in line behind that stop light.  As always, he slowly walked up the meridian.  Cardboard sign in hand: homeless, food, money – anything helps.

I rolled down my driver window.  We made eye contact.  I asked him, “Do you want some fruit.”

He nodded. Walked my way.  I handed him the box.  And quickly rolled up my window for somehow, I felt very self conscious.  Giving is not something I find easy to do. So when I do give, it is often personal.  But with so many cars around, it felt too much like a show.  I should have stressed to him that the fruit was clean, that I hadn’t touched it.  But my immediate reaction was that once I had given it, to roll up the window, and drive away. I should have said more.

He took the box and gave a small bow of thanks.  I said you’re welcome, and then the light turned green.

I often wonder if this man recognizes the many cars that stop at that intersection.  If he recognizes all the people who, everyday, take this same route, and stare straight ahead as he walks past, choosing to give nothing to him.  Because I have always been one of those people.

Does anyone feel the way I do?

I don’t think yesterday’s decision takes me out of that group.  In particular, I don’t think it takes me out of that group because I still feel shame at myself.  It doesn’t change the fact that I wish I could turn away.  That I don’t want to see people like him.

But I did something I have wondered if I could do for a while.  I guess that’s a very small start.

Can I give anything?

Yeah.  I can.



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