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