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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Orange Juice

I feel weird talking about this, because I don't want to come across as boastful, holier-than-thou, championed, or self-righteous. But I do want to record my feeling of elation yesterday, and I do want the people I care about to share in my joy. I need to talk about this.

I walked out the front door on Friday morning and was met with cold and rain. It was a normal day's drive to work, and as crossed the bridge above the train yard on Broadway, I saw a homeless man bundled up and hunched over on a bus stop bench. All of his belongings were arranged around him, as if he planned to be stationed there for awhile. I felt that familiar pang of sadness in my heart. But, it was fleeting, as I was already late to work.

At eleven a.m. that morning, I left to meet Katie at Qdoba for lunch. Again, I saw him, and it appeared as if he'd barely moved. The wind was biting, so I can't really blame him for being so bundled and hunched up. I wondered who he was and why he was there. And how long it had been since he'd eaten. And then, my stomach growled and all I could think about was the poblano pesto chicken burrito I was about to consume.

With a full belly, and the promise of a Gigi's cupcake later, I got in my car and headed back to work. Again, I passed this man. This time, he was pacing around, digging in his stuff, and generally killing time. I almost felt a since of relief... he's moving on, and then I wouldn't have to see him and I wouldn't have to feel that sadness anymore.

Four hours later, I absentmindedly grabbed my purse and left work. I had plans last night to hang out with friends, one of whom was cooking us a gourmet meal, not void of good drink and good dessert. As I rounded the corner of 10th and Broadway, I saw him again. He'd shaped himself back into that huddled position. I felt like God was telling me to feed that man. But God, while that would be noble, it's quite an inconvenience for me. I argued this all the way down the road, until I found myself pulling into a McDonald's drive thru, and ordering a Big Mac supersized and a large coffee. What am I doing???

My hands were shaking as I drove back to work, parked the car, and grabbed the greasy bag and hot coffee. My heels clicked confidently on the brick sidewalk as I approached him, but I was all nerves.

Evidently, he'd been joined by another homeless man while I'd been in transit. As soon as they both saw me coming, he grinned really big. I told him that I brought him some food and some hot coffee, and I acknowledged that it had been a really cold day. The first thing he said: "what church are you from?" Inside, I was thrilled. I'm glad he associated this act of service with the church, and hopefully with Jesus. I replied, "Brentwood Baptist," and he got distracted and began talking about other things.

In the meantime, the other gentleman began eyeing the steaming bag, and asked what was inside. The man grinned big, and said, "it's a hamburger...would you like half of mine?" Talk about being humbled right then and there. A homeless man who probably hasn't had a hot meal in a long time (even if it is a sub-par fast food value meal), is willing to offer this other hungry person, whom he doesn't know from Adam, half of his burger. I don't know about ya'll, but I don't like to share my food. Especially when I'm hungry.

I interrupted, and looked at the other man, and said, "I'll be happy to go get you something too. What would you like?" He grinned, and said, "I want the same thing, but can I have an orange juice instead?" Of course.

It felt like I was dancing on clouds as I walked back to the car. I couldn't get back down to McDonald's fast enough, and I couldn't wipe the big smile off my face.

I laughed to myself as I pulled up to the window a second time in ten minutes. The girls at both windows didn't seem to notice that I'd not only ordered the same meal, but that I'd even been through before. And even though I'd ordered the largest orange juice possible, I was shocked when the 32-oz transparent cup full of OJ was passed through the window.

My heart hadn't stopped pounding, as I pulled back into the parking lot, and retraced my steps back to these two gentleman. They saw me coming, and the one requesting the juice jumped up from the bench, and began to flail his arms in joy when he spotted the bright orange liquid. "Oh man, you got some juice!" the other man said. Again, a big dose of humility. When's the last time I jumped up and down because of some orange juice?

He thanked me as I handed him the bag, and I asked their names. Vincent and Melvin. They asked mine. After another minute of pleasantries, we wished each other well and departed ways. I've not stopped thinking about them since.


Blogger thesciencegirl said...

Thanks for sharing this. :)

1:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the many reasons I'm proud to know you.


2:58 PM

Blogger Courtney Baker said...

Great story MAB. The world needs more people like you.

8:40 AM

Anonymous Katie Walker said...

I love you, Mab. Entertaining angels unawares... Heb. 13:2 Good girl!!!

4:41 PM


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