This story happened a couple months before the quarantine, when the world was still rotating normally on its axis. I forgot about it, but figured now would be as good a time as any to tell it.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day, for who knows what reason, grumpy and not feeling like dealing with people. Dumb excuses for being a bitchy human, I guess. I found reason to be in a bad mood every step of the way from my bed to my car as I drove to work.
When I stopped at 7-eleven to get a coffee and a snack, a man outside the store addressed me and asked if I wanted to buy some coupons, or could spare some money for something…. I don’t remember exactly what he wanted because I cut him off with something rude and continued walking. I do remember that he was wearing well worn, but nice work boots, well worn, but good jeans and a decent jacket and looked like a strong healthy, tired working man. I have a general distrust of people asking for money on the street these days and tend to ignore them usually. In the moment, it seemed absurd that this capable human was begging for money in front of 7-eleven and so I discounted him instantly as many people often do, I’m sure.
He accepted my scorn with patience and let me go.
When I went into the store, I was even more annoyed now, and rushed to get my coffee and to try to get past the other patrons. As I went to the coffee stand, there was a homeless person shuffling around the coffee pots, sort of aimlessly staring at each one. He had urine on his pants, food or puke on his shirt and spit dribbling from his lip. I assumed he was a drunk, and at this point I had had it with the local humans and just dodged him to get my stuff and checkout as fast as possible.
As I was waiting in line, the “working man” who asked me for change outside came in, walked past me and made eye contact with me. Because of my mood and general distrust of panhandlers, I gave him a wide berth but paid attention to him. He walked back to the coffee pots and started talking to the homeless guy with piss-stained sweatpants.
As I watched with a new curiosity, I saw the working man escort the homeless guy around the coffee pots and pour a cup of coffee and give it to him. Suddenly it dawned on me that the working man asking me for money outside wasn’t doing it for drugs, or because he wanted to scam me, but because he was trying to help out another human. I realized that the working man, without enough money in his own pocket to flat out buy this person some coffee or food, put himself in the position to ask strangers for help in front of a store like a panhandler, just to help someone else.
I was completely floored. I didn’t know what to do at first, I paid for my stuff, thought about going back to give them some money but didn’t want to make a scene in the store since my first interactions with the man was so negative.
I walked to my car and sat there for 5 minutes contemplating who I was. Then I went back into the store and approached the two men, the working man escorting the homeless man around like a ward. I asked him if he needed money to buy the other guy something to eat or drink. He blinked and was speechless for a minute, not really sure what my angle was. But then he said that, yes, he was trying to help the other guy because he had a stroke and couldn’t help himself. I took that as the truth, whether whole or partial, and just told them I’d buy them whatever he wanted. I spent the next few minutes walking around while the homeless guy decided what he wanted and pointed. He didn’t want much at all. I tried not to make a big deal out of it because I didn’t want to embarrass him, but I bought his food and gave them some of my old clothes I had in my car for the homeless guy. The working man said “god bless you” several times and was clearly grateful.
The reason for telling this story isn’t for praise. I nearly walked away from that 7-eleven an entitled, narrow-minded, rat-race loving douchebag who would step over someone lying on the street. My parents raised me BETTER than that godamnit. When I relive this encounter, it moves me to tears honestly. I’m posting this story as a reminder to myself and others to not be that person. Thanks for reading and I hope this story in some way spreads some positivity, because we damn well need it.
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