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Homeless

I was humming along to Paul Simon’s haunting lament, ‘Homeless,’ and it brought to mind an incident that occurred a couple of years ago.

I can still recall being acutely uncomfortable while my family chuckled among themselves! I will begin by going back to the many times I kept seeing this homeless man, surrounded by at least ten plastic shopping bags filled with food and his worldly goods. I saw him once at the local library on a cold winter’s night and reasoned that he came in to ward off the chill and to enjoy the warmth. A lean, middle-aged man of perhaps five foot ten inches in height, with tousled, sandy coloured hair, he appeared to frequent the food hall at the major shopping centre. He would commandeer a table and would spread bread, a large tub of home brand margarine, a knife and an assortment of personal items on it.

Once again, it was a chilly night and our family had gathered with our piping hot plates or bowls of assorted food just after our respective shopping expeditions. Glancing over, I noted the homeless man with his usual array of buttered bread and couldn’t help comparing our respective meals.

Feeling quite blessed at our fare, I nevertheless felt uncomfortable while joining in the table conversation. Part way through the meal, I got up and walked over to the Thai food counter but felt dismay when I learnt that they had just shut their kitchen down. Looking around the food court, I noted that several food places had shut up and were counting their tills.

In desperation, I selected a food container filled with meat, vegetables and rice and took it back to the table. The family looked surprised and teasingly asked me if I was still hungry. Whispering, I implored them NOT to turn around and confessed that I had bought it for the man seated behind us. Arching his eyebrow, my son shook his head and my daughter smiled but they both outright refused to take the food over to the man. I then begged my husband to take it over, but he indulgently smiled and stated that since it was my idea, I should be the one to give it to him. No amount of pleading would budge my family.

Aware that the food was steadily getting cold, I finally got up and took the meal over. I awkwardly proffered the food and felt myself redden when the man audibly sniffed, raised his chin and turned his head away in a haughty manner.  If my family hadn’t been with me, I would have stalked out immediately in order to distance myself from the embarrassing situation. I had to instead, traipse back to our table to the highly amused looks of my family.

While they sympathised and also agreed that it was a good gesture, they firmly stated that they would not have bothered.

While I still cringe about the scenario and wished he had taken the food, I think I would have regretted more, not following my impulse to buy the homeless man a hot meal.

© Wendy Robinson 2014

Be bold and courageous! When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did. ~ H Jackson Brown

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Comments on: "Homeless" (7)

  1. This story really gave me pause. I would love to be able to be in his head (and yours too, I confess) during that exact moment. It is so well written that it actually reads like a strong turning point scene from a movie. Excellent post, Wendy and really makes me think about motive, motivation and response. Also, this ended with the same theme as one of your other posts where you sort of questioned yourself about giving out the info on the creased ear-lobe. I would say, your instincts are pure and good and maybe it’s time to start questioning other’s reactions

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  2. Gosh, thanks Stephanie! I’ll treasure this comment and it is really something coming from a writer like you. I have gone over the scene numerous times and it appears he was very much offended by my gesture. I honestly don’t think I will readily do that again. If I do get the impulse to do it again, I will certainly ‘study’ the person before hand (surreptitiously of course) to gauge and hopefully get some vibe as to how he/she will react.

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  3. Gerry OConnor said:

    Quite an experience eh?

    ________________________________

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  4. What an admirable act of courage! I especially love how you tied in the H Jackson Brown quote at the end. It’s unfortunate the man’s response to this, and sadly, I’ve heard similar stories as well. The fact of it all is that you can’t control how others act, and so it’s important to trust your heart, regardless what happens. Who knows, maybe the guy is kicking himself now for treating you rudely? Either way, what you did was a commendable illustration of your character, and the world could definitely use more of that. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thank you and especially for your advice to ‘trust’ my heart. Another close friend once said that I should ‘be myself!’ 🙂 Sage words! Thank you for reading AND commenting. I’m still newish to blogging so I have yet to work on my photos, videos and graphics skills. Stephanie gave me some good advise on that score. Will try and experiment as soon as I find an opportunity to do so. I’m not sure what to call you – Adelie? Thank you also for visiting my site.

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      • I’m very new to blogging as well, so I’m hoping we can share some tips and tricks with each other as we come along 😀 Sometimes I just can’t get my page format to cooperate. Oh well! And yes, you can call me Adelie 🙂

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  5. Will certainly share with you when I learn more myself. I will be following you as well.

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