$10 for groceriesYesterday I went grocery shopping after work.
Inside I noticed a homeless guy with a shopping cart. We passed each other several times and I noticed how slowly he was going down the aisles -- picking everything up. Looking at the ingredients, the cost, the brands.
He was very dirty and fairly stinky, but come on, you can't hold it against him. The only thing he had in his cart was a very worn out and worked over backpack that looked like it had seen its fair share of years on the street. And though I know he was in there for at least 20 minutes and I passed him in at least four different aisles, he didn't put anything else into his cart the whole time.
My heart broke. I wondered if he was just trying to go through the motions of living like he had a house, a kitchen, a fridge. I wondered if he spent so much time examining each item because it felt good to be warm, out of the wind, and just going through the motions of living like other people.
I had to gulp past tears.
I got in line but found that I kept thinking about him.
So, I backed my cart out of line, I found a $10 bill in my purse and gathered up my courage to offer the homeless guy money for some groceries. I wanted him to be able to put something in his cart, not just look at the food and put it back on the shelf.
"Excuse me," I said, as I walked up to him on Aisle Whatever Number It Was, "I hope I'm not overstepping, but I'd like to give you ten dollars so you can buy some groceries."
He looked up at me. We were on the shampoo aisle, I remember now. He had a bottle of shampoo in his hand. Nothing in his cart but his ratty old backpack. And he smelled of urine and dirt and grease and B.O. He looked up at me and he said,
"Give it to someone who needs it! I'm not homeless!"
My mind reeled. WHAT?!
"But you haven't put anything in your cart," I said as all other words and thoughts and sounds began to crumble inside my brain and spill out around my feet. I stood in a pile of good intentions, marinated in shock, horror, and utter embarrassment.
"I'm not a bum," the guy said to me, his ratty beard bobbing as he spoke, "I know I look like one...."
"No, no, no you don't," I said when yes yes yes he did. I died a million deaths, turned my cart around and tried to get back in line as soon as possible.
Ten minutes later I was home and on the phone, telling my story to KB. Telling her how my heart broke for the homeless guy and how I wanted to help buy him some groceries...
"Are you getting your period?" she asked, "cuz it sounds like you have a heavy dose of PMS."
Moral of the story: When the stinky, dirty guy in the grocery store makes you weepy, pick up a bottle of Motrin and keep your $10 to yourself.