Wednesday, November 27, 2019

3 baggies and a crumpled $5 bill

I made baggies for the homeless people I pass every day. Each one included a packet of tissues, cough drops, Chap Stick, hand lotion, a breakfast bar, a pouch of tuna, and $1. At lunch on Tuesday, I took a walk and distributed three of them.

One went to a young mother with two little daughters, who said, "God bless you." The second went to a man sitting under the scaffolding at a construction site. He smiled and thanked me. As I was walking away, I heard him say, "I hope it's socks." Gotta remember that! If not socks, I could certainly add those toe warmers. The third was for a guy who was really, really drunk or wasted, sitting in front of The Billy Goat Tavern. I hope when he woke up/came to, this made him feel better.

I was going to give the last one to a guy in a knit cap, sitting under a street light. When I got close, I saw it was Caleb! He was alone, no Napoleon or Randi. I said hi, he unsmilingly said "hi." I was confused by this and said, "You don't remember me, don't you?"

"You're The Gal," he said. This is so weird. Why is he so cool to me? I gave him $5 and asked where the rest of the family was. He gave me a street name, and told me that Napoleon is "so big." Then he went back to reading. I was dismissed.

I walked a couple blocks up and down the street he named but didn't see Randi and Napoleon. I thought she's appreciate the last baggie because it included lotion. I didn't see her anywhere. There's an underpass on that street, but to be honest, I didn't feel safe venturing down there. I hope that's not where they're living now!

I don't know why Caleb is so remote. Is he embarrassed to be back on the street? Did I offend him somehow in one of our last encounters?

It doesn't matter though. Of course, I enjoyed seeing the young mother's face when I gave her the baggie. Yes, it makes me feel good to know that the wasted guy will wake up feeling like he matters to someone. But doing good shouldn't be about accolades. Doing good should make the world better, even in a small way.

Caleb, Randi and Napoleon have opened my eyes to the suffering of my neighbors. That is what matters. And this Thanksgiving, that's what I'm going to be grateful for.