Luke 10:33 (NIV) But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
It’s hard to tell how old he is. His long, wavy brown hair is clean, and his reddened face makes me wonder if he is/was an alcoholic or just has weathered skin from being in the sun. His warm brown eyes belittle the rest of his appearance, which includes almost always dressing in camouflage.
I met him at the convenience store. Every night, night after night, week after week, month after month, he stands outside because once there was a robbery and he wants to make sure the women who work late at night into the wee hours of the morning are safe. The company doesn’t pay him to do this. He does it because it is his way of serving others.
His little red moped scoots down the road to his sparsely furnished house without air conditioning. His voice is soft and his grammar is pretty bad. He’s lived in Spartanburg all his life.
Being a writer, I’m always asking people questions. This drives my daughter nuts! She says, “Mom, you shouldn’t ask her such personal questions.”
I always respond with the same answer. “Well, Mol, I’m a writer and that’s what writers do.” If I had a dollar for every time we’ve had that short conversation, I’d probably be buying a home in the Hamptons.
Anyway, I needed an extra pair of hands and a strong back for my move in December 2010. I asked the gal at the store if she would trust him to help. She said, “Absolutely. We’ve never had anything go missing as a result of him being here.”
So I asked him if he would like to make some money, and he said “Sure” in his slow Southern drawl.
He did show up to help and did a wonderful job.
A few days later I saw him at the soup kitchen where I volunteer.
Fast forward to night before last. I had a car full of groceries and garage sale items I hadn’t unloaded yet. I was exhausted from running around, and it was getting late. I didn’t want to make 10 trips to the car, so when I saw him outside the store I stopped to ask if he would like to help. He agreed and came over, unloaded the car, hooked up my new flat screen TV (small for my office; I guess I’m finally in the 21st century now!).
Then we had dinner. I’d bought some fried chicken and potato salad. He wolfed it down. We chatted. He told me he’d had a job at a car wash in town for 20 years, but then he found a better job and then lost that one. He hasn’t had a job since and now does whatever work he can find. His friend lets him live in the house rent free.
He told me he doesn’t have food stamps, disability or any type of government assistance. Amazing. Seems like everyone these days gets that stuff, and some of them actually look like they live better than I do, taking vacations and so forth.
It used to be that when I would meet someone like him I would immediately take the person under my wing, try to fix and change them, and mostly feel self-righteous — as if I was God’s special messenger doing my part one person at a time.
I don’t do that anymore. I learned my lesson the hard way after getting ripped off by two people I tried to help…sometimes I’m a very slow learner.
He’s coming over today to do some planting for me because I just can’t get down on my knees right now. It’ll probably take an hour, and I’ll pay him $10 so he can have some money to put gas in the moped.
This man has slipped through the cracks of our society. So many have. One of my passions is helping the homeless. My dream is to renovate some of the old schools, mills, etc. around here and turn them into sustainable housing. I still have time.
Some people say you shouldn’t give people on the street money. Instead, they say you should buy them a meal. Over the years, some people have said to me, “Most of them are just alcoholics or drug addicts, OR (with a smirk) they’re mental cases, and THAT’S why you shouldn’t give them money. You can never be sure, you know? You never know what they might do to you.”
Though these people are partially correct, I ALWAYS give someting. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been homeless so many times (never on the street, but very close).
Anyway, what do you do when you pass someone on the street who asks for money or you meet someone who is slipping through the cracks? Does it make you feel as good as it does me when you help someone else?
And, would you like to help me make my dream come true? Let me know what you could bring to the table (skills, money, who do you know, etc.) by emailing me directly.
Have a blessed day.