Getting To The Meat Of This Homeless Issue

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 26, 2018

Until I met my husband — a much more jaded person than I — my attitude when encountering a street person begging was: If they need it so much they’re begging for it, then they’re in a worse position than I am, and I’ll give it to them. I don’t care if it makes me a sucker, and I don’t care what they use it for.

I will never forget one birthday with him. At my request we went to a vegan restaurant in Portland, Oregon, where I was prepared to be dazzled by the food. I am a vegetarian; he is not.

It turned out to be not all that. The food was really greasy, and I couldn’t understand why it was so freaking popular, but we boxed up the expensive leftovers to go and headed back home.

We knew there would be a lot of street people on our way home, and hatched a plan to give the leftovers away, hopefully to salvage what was left of my birthday by doing something good, at least. But we didn’t see anybody begging for food in Oregon, and when we crossed over the border back to Washington, we were keeping a watchful eye out.

Finally, on one street corner, there was an apparently homeless teenager looking for handouts. We approached him and offered him the leftovers. He looked a bit wary and sad when he said, “I’m a vegetarian.” (For anyone who’s not a vegetarian, that may sound petty; like, “Well, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat it!” But as a nearly lifelong vegetarian myself, I can tell you: No, we won’t.)

I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard that. I told him, “It’s from [Restaurant]. It’s vegan!” I felt like the Universe had ordained this entire incident, and in our rear-view mirror we could see him eating out of the box as he walked away.

Never A Tea-Total For Good Deeds

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | August 22, 2018

(It is the middle of winter, and I am in line behind two other women at a small grocery store. It appears that the first customer has carefully calculated her purchases to stay within the amount of her EBT allowance, and the cashier has torn the top off of a box of tea so the customer can use the coupon printed on the inside. However…)

Cashier: *scanning order* “Um, so, this tea is scanning as a supplement, and EBT won’t cover it, so you’ll have to pay cash for that part.”

Woman #1: “But… but I don’t have any cash. All I have is my T pass and my EBT card.”

Cashier: “Well, but… I can’t put this back on the shelf, now that the top’s torn off. You’ll have to pay for it.”

Woman #1: “I can’t! I don’t have any cash!”

Woman #2: “You know what? Just add it to mine, no big deal. Hey, it even comes with a coupon, right?”

Cashier: “Are you sure? Do you have cash?”

Woman #2: “Yeah, it’s fine. Who am I to deny someone a hot cup of tea in this rotten weather?”

(The cashier scanned the first woman’s card and packed her groceries, then rang the tea and its coupon first on the second woman’s order before adding it to the first woman’s things. The first woman seemed so grateful, and I found myself agreeing with the second woman — on a day like that one, everyone who wants one should be able to have a nice hot cup of tea.)

Kindness To The Homeless Starts At Home

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 19, 2018

This happened a few hours ago and I’m still smiling. I had just finished all my back-to-school shopping for college, and to celebrate, my grandma and I went to go eat at a pizza buffet. We’d been there before. It’s good. The people are nice. The manager is so sweet. You know, all around, a very good environment.

Today, there was a homeless man outside. My grandma gave him a couple dollars and we went inside. Shortly after sitting down to eat, we saw him come inside and sit down, having water but nothing else. Keep in mind that I live in Arizona and the high was 105 today. So, you know, hot.

I was already planning on giving five dollars to him on the way out — here, the pizza buffet is less than $7, so with the $2 my grandma gave him, plus tax, he would be fine — so he could have a bite to eat. Before I could do that, however, a girl came over and brought the man a plate of food and soup.

It didn’t stop there.

She brought him another plate, talking to him the entire time. Then, she also brought him a cup of soda. She was speaking a little louder now so I could hear what she was saying; she kept telling him he could get up and get more food.

This girl was maybe ten at the oldest, and she was being so kind to him. When I saw her go back to the counter, I saw her talking to the manager and it clicked in my mind: they looked a lot alike. The manager told her daughter to make sure the man had something to eat — enough to fill him up.

I see news stories about how the next generation is and sometimes it’s negative, and very hopeless. However, this little girl and her mother were so nice to not only let a homeless person stay inside their restaurant to escape the heat, but then make sure he was able to have some food. Seeing that warmed my heart.

If we have more people like those two leading our future generation, the world will be such a better place. If you’re reading this, either the manager or the daughter, thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. Cheers to you, and I hope you’re rewarded for your caring acts.

Book Driving To A Good Place… Eventually

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 17, 2018

Me: “And would you like to purchase a book to donate to our holiday book drive?”

Customer #1: “Who’s getting them?”

Me: “The heart unit of [Local Children’s Hospital].”

Customer #1: “Oh, no, thanks. I mean, if it were [Cancer], I’d donate, but not just for that.”

Me: “Um… Okay. Have a nice day!”

([Customer #2] comes up.)

Me: “And would you like to–”

Customer #2: “GOD, NO! I just want to buy my stuff and get out of here, and not have you people trying to swindle me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I am required to ask these questions, and the books are going to the [Children’s Hospital]…”

Customer #2: “Not my problem. Just give me my receipt.”

Me: “Here you are. Have a nice day.”

Customer #2: “Shut up.”

(I just kind of stand there in shock for a minute until my next customer comes up. They have a basket full of books, and two giant deluxe-edition board games. I start ringing them up.)

Me: *kind of anxiously* “And would you be interested in donating?”

Customer #3: “Absolutely. I’d like to donate these books, and if you’d like to pick out five or six more from the display behind you, since I don’t really know what the kids are reading these days?”

Me: “Thank you; that’s very generous!”

Customer #3: “I heard those other two. Who thinks like that at Christmas? I want to donate these games, too, if you’re allowed to take them.”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a problem. Again, thank you!”

(Years later, I still remember that customer. Thank you for being the anti-Grinch!)

Drive It Forward

, , , , , | Hopeless | August 15, 2018

(My husband has had a really hard day at a new job involving physical labour out in the sun. It’s about nine pm and we are on our way home, stopping to get fast food for our two young children and ourselves. We have both worked at different restaurants in this chain before, and are familiar with protocol. We pull up to the drive-thru to someone who seems to have been waiting a few minutes in the other lane, and have enough time to figure out our own meals. After we decide, the employee comes over the speaker to our lane first.)

Employee #1: “Hi! What can I get for you?”

Husband: “I believe the gentleman in the other lane was here first.”

Employee #1: “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

(The employee then greets the vehicle in the other lane, while the driver gives us a wave of thanks, to which we smile and return. We order next, and they tell us to pull ahead. When we get to the window and my husband goes to pay after confirming our order…)

Employee #2: “Yeah, that’s already been paid for.”

Husband: “What?!”

Employee #2: “Yeah, that truck right there–” *points to where the other customer was, now at the intersection beside the restaurant* “–paid for your order.

(We thanked the second employee in shock, too surprised to pay it forward to the next vehicle. We had been going through some tough financial times, and this was the first steady job my husband had been able to find in over eight months, so this counted as an expensive treat to our budget. We are very big on paying it forward, and are very glad that there are other people in our city who do the same.)

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