He stood there along the left side of the freeway offramp. Holding a sign saying that he would work for food or shelter he stared off at the oncoming traffic. About six feet tall, wearing a blue jacket, jeans and a pair of boots he watched and waited.
We made eye contact, I in my car, and he standing at the side. For a moment I was ashamed. Ashamed because I had been wallowing in own sense of insecurity and doubt. Ashamed because I felt like I had failed. Upset because my touch seemed to be more of a curse than a blessing. Unsure and unwilling I had been paralyzed and afraid to move.
And there he stood by the side of the road. No roof to cover his head, no visible possessions that I could see. For all I knew everything that he owned was on display. Inside my car I was ashamed because it was clear that in so many ways my life was better than his. I wasn’t the one who was forced to beg for help. I wasn’t the one in the cold.
But between the two of us it seemed to me that I was the one who had the poorer attitude and that is why I felt such shame. As I sat there at the signal I wondered whether I should try and help. I considered opening my pocket and giving him what I had to offer.
It seemed the right thing to do, the proper thing. Still I hesitated. I hesitated because right now things are tough. I hesitated because I wondered if I was being conned. And then when I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to give him something the light changed and the moment was gone.
Perhaps I’ll go back. I don’t know.