I work in downtown Atlanta and I have a view of a trashcan at the corner of Andrew Young International and Peachtree Center Blvd. I watch people dig in that trashcan for food and drink all day long. The people never stop. This keeps me mindful of any extra food that I might have that day. I give it away. I never throw it away.
One day back in February, my boss decided to take me to lunch. This was an unexpected pleasure. I like my boss and I like to eat. I did however, bring my lunch to work that day. Usually I remember to take my leftovers and place them next to the trash can so that someone that needs the food more than I will pick it up. I forgot that day.
I was driving home on Ralph McGill Blvd. It was raining and it was bitter cold. I saw a man walking slowly up the sidewalk. I could tell he was homeless. I know the signs. It was trash day and people had their trashcans out by the curb. This man was digging in them trying to find food.
Shit. It was raining and it was cold. It would be much easier to keep driving. Something came over me as I passed that man, and I drove down the street and looked for a place to turn my giant truck around. I remember thinking, “giving should take some effort.” Well, this did. I turned around and pulled over. Got out, grabbed my lunch and walked up the sidewalk in the rain. “Yuck. Damn it’s cold I thought to myself. This sucks.”
I approached the man. He was startled. Here he was minding his own business and some crazy white guy gets out of a truck in the rain and is chasing him up the sidewalk. He probably thought I was a cop.
“Sir.” I said. “Would you like some food? I didn’t get a chance to eat it today, but I’m not hungry. Here, you can have it.”
He looked to be around 70, but you can never tell as the streets age those that live on them prematurely. He looked tired, worn. Leather black skin. His clothes were wet, old and gray. I opened my brown bag and handed him a sandwich, a banana, a granola bar, yogurt,a spoon and a fresh pair of socks. He looked confused. I smiled at him and said “I hope you enjoy it. Go find someplace dry and eat.” I turned and started back to my truck.
“Absolutely.” I said. I walked to him and hugged him in the rain. He hugged me hard. He took comfort in my arms. We stepped back and exchanged a meaningful stare. We had just shared a big moment together.
“Did God send you?” he asked.
I thought about that for a moment.
“Yes, I suppose he did.”