Tuesday, May 06, 2008

on addiction

some time ago, i had an encounter with a homeless man which really started me thinking.

i pulled into sam's club to do my weekly shopping. i passed a homeless man on the side of the road at the entrance, with the typical signage - please help, anything is appreciated! and i had my usual thought process - i can't give him cash, he'd just spend it on booze. i'm not sure where that indoctrination came from but it's unassailable in my mind now. so i pondered for a moment, and thought "i'll get him a squishy chicken." (my darling sons named the roast chicken from sam's so b/c of its wonderfully tender and flavorful nature.)

i was so proud of myself. i actually remembered this intent through the store, bought the extra chicken, remembered to load the car with the squishy up front, even remembered when exiting sam's to go back toward the entrance to give the chicken to this gentleman.

here's where it gets interesting. feeling very virtuous, i pulled up to him and put down the window.

"Hey, how ya doing?"

'If i was any better, i wouldn't be here!' he says, with only slightly crusty attitude.

"Oops, yeah, i knew that was stupid question by the time it left my mouth. Can you use this?" and i handed him the chicken.

His whole face lit up. he took it, saying 'Bless you!' over and over. and when he lifted it from my hands, he was transformed. 'It's still warm!' he was so grateful.

i turned the car around to get out of the parking lot. i thought to regret that i had no plastic-ware to give him to facilitate eating the chicken, but remembered a wad of napkins in my purse from our last trip to the movies. i gleaned out the ones that weren't too crumpled and returned to his side.

he had already ripped into the chicken. he took the napkins, blessing me again. and i thought to say - "oh, do you want the crumpled ones, too?"

'i live in the woods, i'll take them all!'

i can have a squishy chicken any time i want, and i don't think of it as a miracle. i can go to the movies (it's infrequent with our recent financial stress, but we still do go), and get popcorn and pick up wads of napkins. i don't think of someone as a saint to share crumpled napkins so i don't have to soil my clothing.

who am i to judge and assume he's an alcoholic? there but for the grace of God go i. and i'm an addict to junk food and overeating, and cannot control myself (but i'm starting to try harder). who am i to judge and feel superior?

i've looked for this homeless man every time i go out. i wanted to bring him more food, and maybe a little more compassion and caring, and a little less self-congratulation. i wanted to touch his life. but i haven't seen him since, and i know he's touched mine.

1 comment:

Alana said...

thats an awesome story.