Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hungry. Anything Helps

Years ago, on a downtown street, I saw a wheelchair-bound man. The cardboard sign on his lap read, “Hungry. Anything helps.” Angling his apple with one hand and holding the sign with the other, he lost his grip. The apple fell and rolled in front of me. I picked it up. Dirt clung to the apple’s exposed flesh. “Do you still want it?” I asked him. The man’s lips quivered into a frown. “No, just throw it away.” He stared at the sidewalk. The hopelessness on his face was heartbreaking. That wasn't just an apple. It was a source of enjoyment and it was ruined. I tossed the half-eaten apple into a metal garbage can. “Do you want me to buy you lunch?” I asked. I pointed to a Mexican restaurant across the street. “Yes,” he answered in a flash. To my surprise, the man stood up and sprinted diagonally across the intersection. By the time walk signals permitted me to catch up with him, he had already ordered a meal at the counter and was waiting for me to pay. He smiled and said, “Next time. I’ll buy you lunch."

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