Sunday, February 04, 2007

day 12

I had decided to change things up today and replace the usual vanilla with some hazelnut. However, suddenly my latte seemed cold and unsatisfying.

War veteran. Disabled.


Please Help. God Bless YOU

I was busy admiring the frost covered branches of nearby maples when I nearly walked into him. His dirtied grey blanket and makeshift wheelchair stood in stark contrast to the white shaved ice of the morning frost. A torn piece of cardboard with scribbles from a permanent marker plead his case. I can see that he’s living, but in this biting cold I wonder for how long.

My normal instinct is to walk away, but I’m unable to. I can make a difference. I can help. Here, it’s still hot. A pink face appears from behind the cardboard sign. Without saying a word, he takes hold of the cup and sips on the steaming latte. His eyes open slightly and reveal what were once dark blue irises, but are now bloodshot and clouding with cataracts. Those graying eyes meet my own and express a deep sense of gratitude. Behind them I can see a life full of struggles and hurt.

I begin to pull out my wallet, but quickly change my mind. He needs more than money. Let’s get you a warm meal. As he thanks me, I smell a hint of alcohol in his breathe, but do not hear it in his voice. I feel assured that his struggle is real and do not question the sincerity of his plea. As I push him to a nearby Village Inn, I no longer feel the cold around me.

Our meal is silent, except for the occasional sip of coffee, smack of lips, and occasional muffled burps. He eats as if he hasn’t had a meal in days, shoveling down his pancakes, eggs, and bacon without the proper amount of chewing. I don’t ask him any questions, nor say a word. If he wants to talk, he can. Otherwise, I just allow him to enjoy his meal. Our waitress, with her short blonde hair, looks at him curiously and whispers a thank you to me as she hands me the bill. I tip her generously.

As we leave the restaurant, he indicates that he wants to part ways. I’m guessing he doesn’t want to burden me any more. I want to tell him that he was no burden – that this meal had been a highlight of my week. However, I refrain from saying anything. Instead, I merely pull a twenty out of my wallet and hand it to him with a shake of my hand. Thank you. He grins back and nods a thank you in return.

My apartment feels so warm tonight.

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