Monday, August 15, 2005

there but for the grace...

my shift is over. i am finally getting out for the night. as i run back out to my car to grab my topper, i notice a young fella with a bike painstakingly going through the garbage cans in front of the strip of shops.

almost immediately, something occurs to me. sitting dejectedly under our heat lamps is an order of breadsticks and a pepperoni and green pepper pizza that somebody didn't pick up. at the close of the shift, these two boxes will end up in a dumpster out back with smelly, rotting mushrooms, dough that has fallen on the ground, and dead crows.

almost without thinking, i approach the young man and ask him, "are you looking for cans, or food?"

he cups his hand to his ear and says, "wha?"

"cans, or food? are you looking for cans or food?"

he hestitates a moment. he was hoping to remain anonymous, invisible, now here's this tall, big, noisy bastard bothering him with just the exact question he'd meant to avoid. it pains him to say: "food"

"hang on a sec."

i return shortly with the two boxes that would otherwise be wasted. "a bad order." i say, passing him the boxes. "someone didn't pick it up. it's been sitting under our heat lamps for hours, but it's still good."

i get a good look at the kid. he's clean, with bright, clear eyes. he could be any young guy off for a late-night bike ride if i hadn't already seen him sifting through other people's trash. he looks me straight in the face as he says, "thanks", and i smile a bit and say, "yeah." and leave.

growing up, i had friends and acquaintances who were near-homeless or homeless. if nothing else, it's part of the punk subculture. you can't move through those circles without coming across kids like yourself who, for one reason or another, find themselves living by their wits. frequently, they're not really proud of it, but there they are. and there was this kid.

and it's possible that someone may find out what i did, and i may get reprimmanded (we've got a strict rule that frequently we turn a blind eye to). or that a legion of homeless start camping out on our doorstep hoping for handouts. but, fuck it, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. and this kid wasn't hitting anyone up for money. he was quietly relying on himself to get by.

and sometimes i just can't help but think, "there but for the grace go i"

thanks for listening,

darth sardonic


Blogger Mother Hoodlum said...

That was a nice gesture. Unfortunately, sometimes I think I became too jaded to homelessness when I was harrassed all the damn time living up on Capital Hill, and I all too quickly turn my head from those I see who may be in genuine need of a helping hand. Nice to see not all of us humans out there are not quite so bitter to society. You (and your wifey)are one of the rare good people in the world, Dave, don't change it for anything!

11:38 PM  

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