Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Warmth

A few weeks back K and I took the kids out for dinner on an unseasonably cold night.

The south has a way of tricking you this time of year, tempting you with pear tree blossoms only to snap back to chilling cold.

The four of us were warm inside a casual restaurant where you choose a custom salad or a meat and sides at the counter.

After we were seated a homeless man entered the brightly lit, spacious restaurant.

Everyone seemed to turn and look at him.

He was in rough shape.

I mean really rough.

His face was weathered so badly from exposure that it would be impossible to guess his age.

It had been a long time since he had enjoyed the luxury of a bath or shower.

His shoes were buckling, cracked. He carried nothing but an extraordinarily dirty blanket.

He stood, for a moment, looking at the menu board.

He turned his gaze to the floor, hunched his shoulders, walked to a booth and sat down.

I watched the manager and line staff look at each other and at the customers.

The crew looked nervous, unsure.

The homeless man shifted in his seat. He kept changing positions.

After a very short while he stood up and headed for the door, but paused and gave a backwards glance at the menu board.

K left our table and met him near the door.

I don’t know what K said exactly, but he offered to buy the man a meal and invited him to order whatever he liked.

The man hesitated, then went to stand in the food line.

K went to the cashier and asked her to charge the man's meal to us.


When K returned to the table The Mayor had to go to the bathroom. K took him leaving The Rooster and I at the table alone.

While the man ordered his food, the manager approached our table and handed me $15.00 in gift certificates.

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience,” he said.

I was puzzled.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m so sorry for the bother,” he said. “I want you to have these. I’m sorry you had to deal with him.”

“No, no,” I stammered. “It’s no bother. It’s not necessary.”

I pushed the gift certificates back across the table towards him.

The manager looked at the floor.

“I want your family to have them,” he said. "Your husband did a good thing. I am ashamed that I didn’t do it first.”

He slid the coupons back across the table to me and I left them there.

K and The Mayor returned.

The homeless man took his plate of food and sat down at a table. He could not seem to get comfortable.

He moved
to a booth.

His eyes darted around the room. He seemed anxious. He couldn’t find the calm he needed to eat.

Without having taken the first bite, he quickly jumped up out of his seat, dumped everything in a "to go" box and headed for the door.

He stopped at our table, thanked K and then disappeared into the cold night.





This post by Jen at One Plus Two reminded me of this and inspired me to write down what I remembered. Jen's original post now has a second part which you can find here.


justpostmar2007

79 comments:

Amy Linder said...

Gee, thanks for making me tear up at work... sniff, sniff... that is a truly heart warming story. You are good people.

Patience said...

"Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Rachel said...

What a great example for your kids. Thanks for sharing this story, and the reminder to be compassionate.

Kevin Charnas said...

I love you guys...

We have a large homeless population here in Santa Barbara because of the climate. And there's a LARGE amount of EXTREME wealth here. I'm always shocked at people's cold/indignant, disgusting responses to the homeless. Contrary to popular, ignorant belief, most of them DO NOT have a choice.

When I see them enter a restaurant, I do the same and I do it as unobtrusively as possible.

I give food and money whenever I have a chance. I used to only give food, because I didn't want them to spend the money on booze or drugs or smokes. Then I thought, if I were homeless? I'd want to be drunk.

Deb said...

The last time you wrote about a homeless man, you wrote about the missed opportunity to teach your children something.

I am so pleased that the opportunity wasn't missed again. You and your husband did a great thing. I am glad that I can say I know someone like you. Thank you for being the kind hearted woman that you are!

Nancy said...

Your and K's kindness doesn't surprise me, my shock is that more people don't take that same path when given the opportunity to help someone in need. Beautiful post =)

KAT said...

It's too bad that, out of everyone in the restaurant, only K thought to do something to help that man. But what a beautiful lesson for your children (and everyone who witnessed what happened). Keep paying it forward!

NotSoSage said...

Of course, I am impressed by you and K, but I'm also impressed by the manager. There are a number of places in this city where people will kick a homeless person out of their establishment. I am a timid person and I kick myself for not speaking up when they do. I do not return to the restaurant, but I think that, from now on, I will make a point of explaining to the staff exactly what the reason for my decision is.

Jackie said...

See, this is why I love you - most of the time you have me laughing my a** off - which I appreciate so much. And then every once in a while, when you're least expecting it, you'll post something beautiful like this. Awesome!

Catizhere said...

Beautiful. You guys are great.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

I felt like I was there. Great story. Thanks for sharing.`

amyerj said...

Makes me happy/weepy. Not only did you guys do a good thing, the man got a good meal, the kids learned... but that manager just may do it on his own next time. Let's hope.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Nancy said...

How amazing. What a wonderful family you have.

cinnamon gurl said...

That post by Jen was a great one. And thank you for sharing this story. You guys DID do a good thing, and I'm pleased the manager recognized it and recognized his own inaction. I bet the other diners did too. And now we bloggers can think about this if/when we're in a similar situation.

Ravedogg said...

I was raised to run away from grown men, and I've often felt like that manager because I ignored someone just out of instinct. Your entire family freakin' rocks. I told Charnas if you two ever meet, I want your autograph.

Kristin said...

Good for all of you! I believe we have a moral obligation to help those that we can... your family did a beautiful thing and you never know what chain of kindness you set off amongst the other diners who saw you act that night.

slouching mom said...

Oh, you guys did so well. On all levels. Teaching your children, opening the manager's eyes (though it sounds, to his credit, as if they were ready to open anyway), and, most importantly, giving food to someone who needed it.

Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me to teach some of these lessons to my own kids.

kgirl said...

wonderful story - even better because it wasn't just a story.
what a great example to set for your children - not only to be generous, but to treat people with kindness and dignity.

heather said...

You guys rock. I am proud of you, and encouraged to try a little harder myself.

Mimi said...

Oh wow. Good for you and K. Why is it so hard for all of us to do these things? I'm a big coward. I'll give money every year--a fair amount of money--by writing cheques, but I steer clear of the smelly people my money is given to help. And that makes me a real shmuck.

**applause**

Diana said...

You made me cry at work.
But you did a wonderful thing. I wouldn't have taken the gift certificates, either, in fact if I saw the guy outside I would have given him those, too so he could eat for the next couple days, or at least the following day.
I gave a homeless man my whole ashtray's worth of change (which is a lot of change) who was standing outside on the side of the highway exit, who everyone was ignoring and I cried after I did that, too. I just wish there were something more I could do...I wish it were all different...
HUGS to you and Kevin. You are wonderful people.

QT said...

Thanks for posting that. I am sorry that man could not get comfortable enough to eat, but glad something was put in his belly.

What a great example you set, not just for your own kids, but for everyone in there. Hopefully when challenged in a similar way, I can step up to the plate as well.

wordgirl said...

I can't imagine what that would be like. To be so hungry and physically uncomfortable and yet to know that it wasn't enough to inspire compassion in ANYONE..except for your family. That people would rather see him walk back outside so taht their dining experience wasn't compromised by his hard luck.

I'm so glad that you guys are the kind of people you are.

Lotta said...

Wow. I think I might love your husband a bit.

Adventures in Baby Fat said...

What a nice post. And what a great show of compassion and humanity. I love that you guys are real people. A great value to teach your children!

Melina said...

That was a beautiful post and shows what good people you and K are. Thank you for sharing this story I hope it inspires someone to help someone else out, who might not be able to help themselves. I know it has inspired me.

Thanks

croutonboy said...

That....

is awesome

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I wish you could have had time to hand him the certificates...he could have used them too...

What a wonderful story.

jen said...

Jess, it's lovely. And how awkward to be faced w/ not only a sad situation but also the inherent bias of others.

you are teaching your children well, and that is the best we can hope for.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Too often we turn a blind eye to those in need. I'm ashamed to say that I've looked away more than once. Great story, greater deed.

Kyla said...

That was wonderful. Good for K, teaching the children and the people in the restaurant, and helping someone in need.

SciFi Dad said...

Good for K. An excellent post.

Grim Reality Girl said...

Thanks for a touching post and reminder to remember our humanity. I also liked the linked story about giving money without question. "But for the grace of God go I....."

Lucia said...

How many times are we given the opportunity to choose the right thing? How many times do we choose it?

Lovely post. I've been thinking about homeless issues over at Jen's blog as well.

Cece said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What a great thing you did.

still standing said...

Niiice....

Dirty Birdie said...

That was a good thing you did. You never know what brought that man to be in the position he was in. It's sad to think that as a society we throw away enough food to feed a small country every year. Sad sad sad.

You guys rawk!!

Ortizzle said...

Oh, God. How many others must there be who can't sit down in a warm place to eat because most of the customers resent the fact that a person has no way of taking a shower and putting on some clean clothes? Bless you both for being braver and kinder than most.

~Diet Goddess~ said...

Wow... Just wow. Incredibly self-less and humbling story. I hope everyone that reads it is inspired to pay it forward as your family did. I am going to try my best!

Tabba said...

Ok, I pottied before I read this thinking I was going to pee in my pants a little. But oh no, what I need is a tissue.
And you and that K-man of yours...I just want to hug you 'til your eyes bug out a little. Just a little. Not too much.
I wonder though, why the manager didn't offer the gift certificates to the man? Hm.

Lisa said...

You are both very kind and generous souls. It is wonderful to see such compassion and even better to know that your children got to witness it too.

Peg said...

Warmth, indeed...and that warmth is exactly what it's all about--life...being on this earth...being human and making a difference in someone's life.

At the end of the day, those to whom we connect are impacted, and it spreads outward like ripples on a pond. Interestingly, unlike a pond, those ripples actually grow stronger when they being to intersect with other ripples.

Thank you for putting this wonderful snapshot of humanity (and of your family's wealth of generosity) to words.

Jess Riley said...

Wow. This story was wonderful. Your family is a class act.

creative-type dad said...

Wow!

Mrs. Chicken said...

Your heart and those of your family ... amazing. I guess I am not surpirsed by this at all.

I am also not surprised that K's actions shamed another.

We should all be so gentle with those who are hungry.

Oh! This made me so sad!

deb said...

You did a good thing and you inspired the manager to do a good thing. Be kind, it's contagious.

No Cool Story said...

That was great!, thanks for sharing that story.

notfearingchange said...

Some people in the world are fortunate. Others are not. Those who are fortunate should remember that we all have a heart, a soul, and feelings.
One of my favorite homeless men when i lived in a larger city would sit out in front of a church which was on my way to work. I started to give him an apple each morning as I walked by...we had small chit chat. Then one morning he said, "I have something for you." He pulled out a chocolate bar and insisted that i take it. He was more happy that he could give something to me.

sweatpantsmom said...

What a beautiful story. I think you've inspired a lot of people to consider doing the same when they see someone in a similar situation. I know you've inspired me.

ali said...

wow. that's just about all i can day. wow.

Em said...

Your generosity and compassion are fabulous. Not only did you help the poor guy get a good meal, you clearly showed others in the restaurant how to be more accepting and loving of fellow humans.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Wow, that was beautiful. Gave me chills.

Lawyer Mama said...

Just when I get caught up in my own little world and petty problems, you remind me about what's important in life. Thanks.

Sayre said...

(((K & OTJ))) My heroes.

Gingers Mom said...

Sad and interesting story. That WAS really generous of you guys. I wish I could say that I would have done the same. I'm not sure if I would have jumped right to action. Good for you. I am sure you really blessed him.

Paige said...

You know...I am just really glad I met you. Words fail me.

King Isepik said...

I am humbled by your generosity! I bow your compassion. I am so inspired by your actions and plan to continue to try to do something nice for someone else each day.

It makes me happy to see that there are others out there that do good things just because they're the right thing to do.

*Standing Ovation*

Groovy Lady said...

That was an excellent and heart warming post.

How anyone could have watched that scene as ya'll did and not react in the exact same fashion, is something that my mind cannot and will not ever be able to wrap around.

Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

urban-urchin said...

good job guys- so often it's easy to not see that human beings no matter how dirty are worthy of dignity and respect AND a meal. I also second what patience quoted.

flutter said...

what a perfect example for your kids.

Mel said...

In the "Getting Waaay Too Mushy" Dept.:
I love K and I love you. I wish I were as loving and giving as you guys.

Irene said...

the perfect story to start my day with and that I will treasure for years from now. thank you. thank you.

karrie said...

Good for you!

You know, there was nothing stopping the manager from giving the homeless guy some more free food or the certificates to return another time.

Jenn said...

Really good example for your kids. I'm glad K did something that I think a lot of people might really want to do, but are too insecure or intimidated to do for some reason (including me).

Mamma said...

I just knew I loved K!

You guys are wonderful. I'm sorry the gentleman couldn't feel comfortable eating in the restaurant. But I understand.

megachick said...

i am the manager. i wish i had the courage to do something like that. thank you for actually doing the good deed that i hope many were thinking.

Robyn said...

That was such an awesome expression of compassion! I give you a standing ovation!

RubyLou said...

Amazing. K made a fabulous gesture and that made me smile.

Augs Casa said...

Pay it forward Joy..Bless you. not sure if you read my blog on this if you did, thanks, if not, karma is a good thing.

d. chedwick bryant said...

I think I forget, when i see the homeless guys around here, that most used to be guys who went to restuarants regularly, enjoying meals with friends and family, relaxing with a cup of coffee, lingering at the table. And once you are homeless, so many things become off limits or out of reach. After awhile it must be all surreal and you don't fit anywhere.
It is so hard to come back from homelessness without lots of support.

this post was wonderful--the way you described the man I could feel his confusion.

d. chedwick bryant said...

Kevin---

I recall seeing so many homeless men camping out around 'Big Fig' a tree in Santa Barbara --this was a long while back. I was with a friend and he wanted to go and talk with the men, and so we did, he did --I just stood there because the men seemed embarrassed to make eye contact with me, many ignored my friend too, rolling over on their stomachs, facing the ground, or curling into fetal positions. I crossed the street to wait as my friend talked with 3 or 4 guys at length. He ended up giving them all of the cash he had on him (which was considerable since he was on vacation)

I was just taken with how quiet and sad the group was.

mamatulip said...

Wow. Just...wow.

Jennifer said...

Tears.

Thank you for the inspiration.

Flawed & Disorderly said...

That was an awesome thing to do. How sad that he couldn't get comfortable. If only the whole world would take care of someone when they see a need.

carrie said...

I wish there were more people like you.

Carrie

Rachel Briggs said...

I wish we all had the courage to follow our hearts and not worry what others think. So wonderful.

Mad Hatter said...

Lovely.

mothergoosemouse said...

Wow. Just WOW.

Warm, fuzzy, and teary. All over.

sarcasticmom said...

I love people with big hearts.

It's why I married John. He does things like this frequently and inspires me to do the same.

Tell your husband I dig his big heart, man.