For the past few weeks I've been passing a homeless man at the off ramp I take to get to work. He is an older guy maybe in his 60's, although sometimes it is hard to tell the age and circumstances when the streets have taken their toll.
He sits in his busted up wheelchair and holds out his cup to anyone who might drop in a few cents if they get caught at the traffic light. The guy is clearly in need and appears without clean clothes or a roof over his head.
A couple of days I passed right by him. I admit it. It makes me uncomfortable to be around homeless folks. I don't know why but it does and it bothers me that it does. I decided I need to get over it.
One day recently on my way to work I picked up an extra lunch. I decided I'd head to that off ramp and offer a meal to this guy if he would take it. I bought the meal. I drove to work. He wasn't there at the off ramp. The next day I bought another meal to give to him when I saw him. I bought the meal. I drove to work. He wasn't there at the off ramp again. I felt a little foolish, a little dejected. But I decided to do it one more day, "Last time" I thought. For the third time, I bought the meal. I drove to work. He wasn't there at the off ramp.
But another man WAS. He was standing there in the same spot with a sign that said "Homeless and Hungry". So I stopped at the ramp and rolled down the window. I told him I had bought an extra meal in case he wanted lunch. It looked like he couldn't believe someone had bought him lunch. He took the bag and looked inside and thanked me and said "god bless you.''
I don't know what happened to the other man. I'm hoping he found some help or a place to live. And I know one meal isn't a lot. But now I've broken the ice a bit in my own mind. Maybe I can do it again. Maybe I'll just go buy another lunch on the way to work just in case. You never know who might need it.