I know, this is supposed to be a writing blog. But occasionally I am probably going to veer off into my personal life. If that doesn't entertain you, feel free to skip over posts like this one and I will be back to business tomorrow. :) I justify recording these events as the little things that eventually make their way into inspiration and then story form.
Yesterday, Handsome and I were driving to our favorite Mexican restaurant (mm, quesideas and raspberry margaritas). When we exited the highway, we saw a man standing on the corner with a sign that said, "Hungry - please help."
"Do you want to stop off and buy him a burger?" Handsome asked.
I agreed that sounded like a good idea. We know a lot of the homeless kids in our area, so we sometimes give them food or money, but this was the first time we'd stopped off to buy food for a homeless stranger. We discussed the etiquette of it as we pulled into a Carl's Jr -- should we flag him down first and then pay for his order? Or just pick up food and then run it back to him? in the end, we decided to just order him a combo meal and bring it back.
Well, I still don't know about the etiquette, but I do know about the practicality of it. When we emerged with a bag of fast food and a Coke and walked down the street to the highway entrance, there was no more homeless man. We walked down the road a little further, wondering how he could have gotten out of sight so quickly (maybe our fast food wasn't all that fast).
So there we are, with good intentions, dinner plans, and a bag of fast food we don't know what to do with.
"Where are the homeless people when you need them?" I asked Handsome, because I am always very sensitive.
We walked back to our car and decided to drive down to the beach, looking for someone homeless. And as we parked our car, a man sat down on a park bench right in front of us. He was older, wearing a dirty fatigue jacket with a long beard. But... was he homeless? Would we be complete jerks if we went up and asked him if he wanted Carl's Jr?
"You do all the talking," I warned Handsome.
"Okay," he said. So we walked over to the park bench. "Um, do you want some Carl's Jr?"
"No," the guy said. Oh. Okay. Nevermind. Fall back and regroup...
"Okay," Handsome said. We started to move away, and then the guy said, "Well, maybe. Did you have extras or something?"
We explained the story of the disappearing homeless man we'd hoped to give the meal to.
"Well," he said. "I guess I can eat it. Okay. I'll eat it."
"Great," we said. We gave him the bag and the Coke.
As we started to walk away, he called, "God bless you!"
We're still not sure if he was someone who needed food or if he just wanted to end our awkward search. But I'd like to think we still managed to do a good thing that day, even if we bumbled it. Hopefully, we're in service of some higher power that's a little more slick than we are.
Next time we see someone asking for food, though, I am going to ask what he'd like and either bring him with us or tell him not to go anywhere! Handsome would like to take it a step further and bring them into our restaurant with us, but I'm not sure how that would go over. He is inspired by this project. And maybe it's not a bad idea. Probably someone living on the streets can use not just dinner, but someone to talk to.
And, tying this back to writing, the novelist in me thinks it might not be a bad idea, either. Pushing our personal boundaries could change our perspective, challenge our cherished beliefs, inspire our best writing. I know that's how, for better or worse, I've made some decisions for my life -- not, what's the smart thing to do here? but, what's going to make the better story to tell? Remarkably, I am still alive, and maybe a little bit more interesting of a person, as well.
1 hour ago