I can’t even think of a title for this post. Though hours have passed I still don’t quite know what to think.
I was so frustrated today. I had simply had enough of people. I decided to call it a day, pack up the kids and go to the park to meet a friend.
There are only three stoplights between my house and the park, and I had to stop at every.single.one of them. I noticed as I approached the second light that there were people in the intersection asking for money.
This isn’t a really unusual thing, I often see homeless people holding up signs (Up a creek, no paddle!) or families asking for gas money (unemployed, need gas to find job), sometimes it’s the fire department collecting spare change in a boot. Once I even saw a man with a sign that read “I’m not homeless, just broke with bills to pay!” Today it was 2 men in orange vests collecting for a local church food pantry.
When I was a kid we frequently went to Pittsburgh Pirates games and we always tailgated before the game. I remember many occasions where my parents were approached by homeless people. My parents gave every person that approached them a meal, even if it meant one of them didn’t get a meal. I have a lot of memories of my childhood but those memories really stand out. I never felt scared of these strangers, I just remember my parents giving these people food. I want my kids to remember the times Jason & I do similar things, not because I want recognition, but because I want them to do the same things with their kids watching.
I can’t say I always give people money, because frankly, I just don’t. Sometimes I’ll give a dollar or maybe whatever change I have in the cup holder. I have given people drive-thru food since ordering 12 tacos doesn’t do more damage to my budget than ordering 10 does. I gave a hungry man two Starbucks gift cards last week, each only had a few dollars on them but it’s what I had to give. It seems silly to give a homeless man Starbucks cards but he was hungry and I had no food or cash with me.
Anyhow, back to my story…
So today I’m at my wit’s end and decide to escape the house for a while. I stopped at the red light and was immediately approached by a large man collecting money in a bucket. I shook my head and mouthed “no” three times. He kept pointing at me. I was really starting to get annoyed. I was having a terrible day and I had no money with me. I really, really didn’t need this stranger badgering me.
It got to the point where I was about to roll the window down and tell him off when I realized what he was saying. He was pointing to my kids and asking if they were all my kids. “Those all your kids, mam?” (I only had 4 of the 5 with me, mind you.)
I nodded. He removed a couple of dollars from his bucket, held them up to my window and said “God bless you. Please take this.” He wasn’t being rude or judgmental or trying to guilt me into anything.
I didn’t take the money and the light turned to green so I moved along. I looked over at my 14 year old daughter and said “wow”. She simply replied, “yeah.”
I don’t even have words to describe how ashamed I felt at that moment.
This man woke up this morning and used his day to change the world for other people. I am fortunate enough that today I am not a person he will be helping to feed, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t help me.