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My Homeless Man Encounter

A recent encounter with a homeless person left me scratching my head. I was walking out of a bakery and had three muffins in my bag.

“Spare change?” He asked.

“No, but how about a blueberry muffin?” I said.

“I don’t need no god damned muffins!” He yelled.

Huh?

I was so pissed I wanted to throw that big ass blueberry muffin at his head, but I kept on walking.

When I got to work, I wrote about the ecounter on Facebook and said “When life gives you muffins, shouldn’t you take the damn muffins?”

A flood of comments and notes followed, ranging from people agreeing with me to others defending the homeless man.

“He is probably mentally ill,” said one.

“All they want is drug money,” said another.

So that night I was driving home from Chicago Live and I saw a man, who seemed to be homeless, wobbling across the street. He was so wasted he almost toppled onto several cars. His arms were stretched high and he was talking to the sky.

Immediately, I tried to put myself in his shoes.

If l I had no house, my clothes were soiled with my own bodily fluids, I was unemployed and life sucked in general, I can guarantee I’d do anything and everything I could to get my hands on something that would make the pain go away.

And that sure as hell wouldn’t be a fucking muffin. Let alone a muffin filled with berries that contain actual anti-oxidants.

I would want the hardest, quickest thing on the market that I could afford. And I’d swear at anyone who tried to get in my way.

Now many might sit there and judge that wobbling man. I probably would have too in the past. I have no idea what got him where he is or isn’t. Only he knows.

But watching him in action as he smiled at the thought that he was flying, I chose not to judge. I chose to have compassion.  And I also chose not to be pissed the next time a homeless guy doesn’t want my free pastry. If you give with conditions, you aren’t really giving at all. You’re judging.

The only true gift is when you give without the need for approval, a thank you, or a favor.

I think I’m going to give that a try one of these days.

Comments

  1. Jen, I always struggled with giving to the homeless….thinking they were going to use the money for drugs or drink. I went to mass at Old St. Pat’s awhile back and Father Cusack talked about giving to these people and that we should do so without hesitation…that yes , some of the money would go to drugs or the drink…but some might also just make a difference in that persons life. So I started giving a few bucks to the guy with a homeless sign on the 55 off-ramp that I had passed up so many times. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks….and I hope and pray that maybe those few bucks made a difference in his life.

  2. Unless you plan to take him in, feed him, clothe him, shelter him and help him beat any addiction he has – with little likelihood of lasting success – I think giving him some immediate gratification in his truly miserable life is far more moral than projecting what “you” think he should do and giving him something “you” think he should have. That doesn’t mean you should be cursed for offering him a tasty muffin.

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