Dance class was fun today, and I decided to head down to Westwood Village afterward for some breakfast. I thought I’d go to Whole Foods. There was a homeless man sitting in front of the store, holding a paper cup and asking for change. I didn’t give him any money. I went into the store and got a salad and some fruit, then went to their patio seating area to eat.
The food I’d gotten was not good. The strawberries and pineapple tasted watered-down and the cottage cheese was very faintly sour. The garbanzo beans in the salad were too hard, and the mixed greens were quite bitter. And all the while, this man was asking all the passersby, “Ma’am, please help?” “Please help, sir?” The other people on the patio were talking and eating their lunches, but I was like to choke on my food. There was just no way I could eat my own food (even if it had been good, and you know it wasn’t) when I knew that not twenty feet away someone else was going hungry. So I packed up my salad and went over and asked the man if I could buy him some lunch. He nodded, so I asked what he would like, and he said, “Hot pizza, chicken, and orange juice.” I repeated it back to him to make sure I got it right, then replied, “I’ll see what I can do.”
I went back into Whole Foods and got two slices of cheese pizza, which the man behind the counter heated up in the oven for me. Then I picked out two pieces of fried chicken, a drumstick and I think it was a thigh. Got the pizza and chicken packed up, then headed to the checkout, stopping by a drink cooler first for an Odwalla orange juice. At first I thought I might just save a dollar and get some concentrated orange juice like Minute Maid, but then I thought, what the heck. I’d spent more than I wanted on my own lunch, and it sucked; might as well do what I can so that someone else can enjoy his food.
So I bought the food and it costed about as much as my lunch had: $8-9. Got fork and knife and napkins and brought it all out to the man, who thanked me and God-blessed me. I feel like getting lunch for him makes up for my own lousy meal. I hope his food was better than mine. I hope he’s enjoying it.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]
Reading about what you did made me feel nice inside. I often wish I could do the same, but find it hard to act on my desire. It makes more sense to spend money giving someone else food, though, than on another shirt or sweater, etc. Good job.
There are always so many people asking for our time or money, and it’s always hard to know which causes are legitimate. But I do feel very much that food, more than money, is something I can give without worrying too much. I had the same thought, too, about clothes shopping. Whole Foods is so expensive, and I was trying to decide how much food I should buy for the man, and then I thought, “Whatever, I can afford it. I just won’t spend so much on myself this month.”
Good for you. I can’t honestly say I’d have done the same in your place, although I always do feel horrible about anyone asking for change. Berkeley hasn’t hardened me to that one bit (well, I’m not as receptive to those young punk kids). However, today as we got off the freeway, there was a man with a sign on the left side of the road. We were in the right lane, but if we’d been in the left, I definitely would have given him some money (the only food I had on me was a single cookie). It heartened me to see one man roll down his window and pass a dollar over.
I tend toward giving food instead of money, because I never know where the money will go. I used to be especially wary of the street kids, but these days I respond a little differently to the mention of them. I’ve been reading Maya Keyes’s Xanga, and of course she’s no kind of objective writer, but she says a large number of homeless youth are actually LGBT kids, many of whom were kicked out of their homes or left for other related reasons. I’m still skeptical about most punk kids, but now I don’t just dismiss them right away as willful rebels against suburbia.