It was -17 this morning when I woke up. So cold the dog didn’t even want to go out for a walk. By noon, the temperature had risen to a balmy -1 and I headed to Jewel for some much-needed wood floor cleaner for the weekend.
“Man, please, I’m just tryin’ to get something to eat…” was the plea, as I turned my hooded head to the left and spotted a homeless man. We made eye contact. Either he’d been crying or the cold had started to get to him. His nose was running too. Then I noticed one of his pant legs was frozen up to the knee as if he’d spent the night in a snow bank.
I reacted the way the city has taught me to react. I looked away and quickly made my way toward the revolving door of my destination.
I walked the aisles of the grocery store, found my wood floor cleaner and contemplated the situation. I was about the spend 4.99 plus tax for some soapy shit in a bottle so I could wipe away the dog paw tracks in my overpriced condo. My warm, overpriced, condo with a soft bed, running water, cable TV and a well-stocked whiskey cabinet. My home. The thing I have and the guy begging out front does not. I’m not a bleeding heart, sympathy-for-the-world type of person, but I was having trouble making sense of the thoughts floating through my head. I had to do something.
Soup. Bread. A five-dollar bill. I packed a plastic bag and went back out into the cold. The guy was still there. I walked toward him and he seemed confused—as if he remembered me as the jerk who would barely look at him ten minutes prior.
“Clam chowder?” I asked, wondering if he might’ve preferred the Chicken with rice instead.
“I love clam chowder. GOD BLESS YOU! I’m starving,” he said as he took the bag.
I wanted to say, “God bless you too,” but I’m still undecided on the whole god thing. I wanted to say have a good day, but that seemed like a completely idiotic thing to say to someone in such a bad situation. I wanted to say something smart, but instead I just cinched up my hood and took off in the opposite direction. All I can say now is that I hope he enjoyed that clam chowder and the rest of the care package. I hope it’ll hold him over until dinner.