Recently, after ending the work day, I stepped outside my office back door and as I turned to close and lock it I glanced over to see a very disheveled man rapidly walking across the parking lot. As I turned the key to lock, he stopped in his tracks and asked me if I could give him a few bucks to get something to eat. Initially I hesitated since we’ve had problems with vagrants in the past
sitting behind the office building leaving beer bottles, paper bags, and trash, not to mention other biologically interesting things. I didn’t wish to cultivate a “frequent flyer.” But I remembered one of my brothers saying he never turns down a panhandler claiming that Christ is in everyone who approaches you for help. This may be true I admit to him but I chide him in countering that the
Christ I’ve read about doesn’t make a habit of asking people for money to maintain his Jack Daniels blood level. I also tell him, Jesus also taught that one should not throw their pearls to the swine. I suppose presumption, mixed with judgment, has a way of making a Christian un-Christ like.
Anyway, I asked the passerby when he had eaten last. Yesterday, midday. The voice on my right shoulder spoke. I paused, thought a second, then told him, “There’s a Taco Bell on the corner over there. Meet me there and I’ll get you something to eat.” This way I would call his bluff. I figured if he was truly hungry he wouldn’t hesitate and would accept my offer. If not, then he would keep on going, which by the way is how it’s happened a few times.
I realize Taco Bell is not the healthiest food to feed Christ-in-tattered-clothes with worn out Nikes, but it was convenient. As I
drove my truck out of the parking lot and up to the intersection, the gentleman had already crossed the intersection and was almost there. As I drove into Taco Bell’s lot towards the drive-thru I saw he was already sitting, perched on the curb out front of where vehicles exited from the drive-thru window. I’m now thinking he must truly be hungry.
At the drive-thru menu I contemplated what to get my soon-to-be (in-spirit) dinner-mate. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten at Taco Bell’s so I was unfamiliar with their menu. But I remembered my son Chris would always rave about the chalupas, so I ordered two chalupas, a burrito, and some
cheese fries with a large drink for my “partner” and took a chance myself on two burritos. I had no way of knowing if my friend was suffering from constipation but I took some consolation in thinking there may be an added benefit in my good deed. Anyway, the entire order was put into two bags, one for
Jesus-disguised-as-a-vagrant, and the other with my meal inside. As I paid for the two orders at the drive-thru window, I saw my new friend stand up from his squatting position, almost at attention, looking very eager and apparently very hungry.
I pulled away from the drive thru, stopped and rolled down the passenger window. His eyes opened wide as I handed him the bag with his supper inside. He thanked me over and over, saying “God bless you. God bless you” and he walked away. I felt like I had done a good deed and was now very grateful for having acted on what I initially thought was a ruse and that I had followed through with my instincts (or more precisely, the little voice inside).
As I paused my truck waiting to pull out on Pass Road, I looked over to my right as the hungry man was walking away only to see him throwing paper wrappers, left and right, out of the paper bag, littering the roadside, but obviously ravenous and diving into the treats inside. I remember thinking that even though he was littering the roadside at least the better good had been done
in feeding a hungry man.
It was then I pulled out on to Pass Road and as I approached the intersection light I saw the light suddenly turn yellow. Not wanting to get stopped by a red light, I gave it the gas, speeded up, and barely made it through the intersection. Paranoid that a traffic cop might have caught me speeding through the intersection, I looked in my rearview mirror only to see two loose paper bags fly out the back of my truck onto Pass Road.