November 14, 2013

That One Time I Was Served The Largest Piece Of Humble Pizza Pie....

TJ was given the day off from practice yesterday so we decided to take a walk down to the 16th Street Mall to grab some lunch and frozen yogurt from this place that he ate at when his team played here against Denver a couple of years ago. 

As we walked down the street I was whining about how he'd be away in South Dakota on Thanksgiving, and how that'd really suck because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and having it before or after that splendid Thursday just isn't the same.

We decided to have lunch at the Yard House. TJ had the BBQ Bacon Burger and I had a BBQ Chicken Pizza with chicken tortilla soup. Clearly we like BBQ sauce. Everything was delicious, and somehow, our lunch came out to $36. I questioned and itemized the receipt, but yep, our lunch cost $36, so we whipped out the debit card, grabbed my box of leftovers, and took off down the street to find this yogurt shop that TJ has talked about since before we even moved to Denver.

As we walked the five blocks down the street we passed dozens and dozens ... I don't know, maybe even a hundred homeless folks. Three asked for spare change ... "Even your pennies will do," ... but TJ and I never carry cash on us and we certainly couldn't fill their cups with our debit or credit cards, so we had to reply with, "Sorry, we don't have anything," as we walked past them.

We finally made it down to the yogurt shop and were greeted by this:

Closed for business. And TJ was one sad panda. He was totally looking forward to "being a kid in a candy shop," and loading his frozen yogurt with a pound of goodness. I told him that there was a Pinkberry down the street and that he'd have to settle on that, so we turned back around to trek to that yogurt shop instead.

As a forth person asked us for spare change, and we had to reply with "Sorry, we don't have anything" I started to feel an anxiety attack brewing. These people kept reminding me of a close family member who chooses to be homeless and panhandle and live off the earth, and it just started to overwhelm me. Is this how people react to her? Telling her "Sorry, I don't have anything" while quickly moving down the street with their expensive handbag and warm Ugg boots? I felt like such a giant asshat.

We walked a few more steps and I heard someone mumble something at us so I stopped in my tracks and asked him "Pardon? I'm sorry, what did you say?" His voice was suddenly lower, but as I looked into his tired eyes I heard him clearly - "Are you going to eat the leftovers that are in that box?" 

Obviously I handed my pizza over immediately.

And I haven't stopped thinking about that boy since. He was younger than me for sure ... maybe 23? ... and he was hungry. I could see it in his eyes. He didn't even care about what was in the box ... he just needed to eat.

Suddenly, me spending Thanksgiving alone, and TJ not getting his frozen yogurt didn't matter anymore.

I keep wondering if he was filled with humiliation as my heart was filled with sadness when he asked for my already eaten food. I've been wondering how he got there, where his family is, and how many people walk by him each day. Where does he sleep at night? And where was his coat? 

I guess I grew up in a small town bubble in Massachusetts. I'm not ignorant to the statistics of homelessness ... but I've just never been surrounded by so many homeless people before. It's a truly tragic situation here in Denver, and one that breaks my heart each time we leave our apartment.

Tonight I'm attending a Thanks Giving Blogger Meet Up party. I'm going to be honest here - when I first learned of this event I was more excited to meet fellow bloggers in my new town than I was about the actual purpose of this event. And now? Well let's just say that this seriously couldn't be happening at a better time. 

I don't know that boy's name ... but I want to. I want to know all of them. They aren't hobo's ... they are humans with feelings. And I know this sounds cheesy ... but I feel like my thirty second interaction with that boy has changed me. Yesterday I wrote about how I don't really know what I'm doing with my life ... and I feel like maybe that boy helped me to figure it out.

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  1. Oh how beautiful your heart. We live in a small town that has hardly any homeless, but the few we have are along my way to and from work. My heart is always heavy to pray for them, for their cold hands and feet in the winter, for dry in the rain. Weather makes me grouchy, until I remember there's people enduring weather without coats or blankets or hot tea or scarves.

  2. You are such a kind kind person, bb4l. That boy is so lucky to have met you, even if just for 30 seconds.
    I remember one time we were in LA and walking to dinner. A homeless man said something about bringing him leftovers. Well, we did. Would you believe he asked for silverware & a drink when we handed him 3 people's worth of leftovers? I chalked it up to being in Hollywood.

  3. What a touching story! I work in downtown Cincinnati so I see it all the time. It's way too easy to think negatively about these people sometimes, instead of stopping to think about how they really might just need a small favor, a lending hand to help them out. LOVE THIS!

  4. I always give whatever I can to any homeless people I see. One day I was driving home and saw a homeless man standing around with a sign, I had zero cash on me so I apologized, went to the grocery store and bought him some food and water. When I drove up to him and handed it all over, he cried.
    I've also fed the homeless a few times and it really is such an inspiring experience. My dad was an alcoholic and he very much so could have ended up on the street and that's one reason why I just can't walk away from them.

  5. I think it's so interesting how certain people can open up your mind. HOwever, I do think that some homeless people are homeless because they are on drugs or don't care. i once saw someone asking for money and then get in a nice car with a friend. However, when someone is asking for food that is clearly different and really puts things into perspective. if we blog, chances are we have it pretty good.

  6. I love this and I'm so proud of you for reacting this way! I think people are SO quick to judge homeless people and why they're in the situation they're in... when in reality, none of that matters... drug addict, alcoholic?... does it matter?? It shouldn't, in my opinion. No matter what their situation is, the bottom line is still the same... they're still hungry, they're still cold... no matter what the reason is, it doesn't matter... they still need our help. I'm so proud of you for helping, and for learning from it.

    I'm definitely not trying to pimp my own blog here, but I had a similar situation a couple of years ago... and thanks to yet another blogger, when I felt compassion, I actually acted on it instead of wasting my energy judging. It definitely changed my perspective... just sharing because it reminded me of what happened to you...

    Also? You'll never forget that man, I promise! I still think of my similar experience all the time and it's been almost two years. You're letting it affect you and for that, you'll be forever changed... even if just a bit!

  7. I always feel guilty when I see a homeless person - granted there aren't many where I live (and we actually have a growing problem of people with homes pretending they are homeless for money/food/handouts). It forces me to reflect on my life and everything that I have and all that is available to me. I hope you enjoyed the meet-up and found it useful!

  8. Oh, you just almost made me cry

  9. My dad's a D.C. police officer and always taught me to be respectful towards homeless people because they are the ultimate survivors no matter how 'loony' people think they are. I personally never give money to homeless people (because they could use them for drugs) but I will buy them food or give them hugs if they want. The first time I ever hugged a homeless person, he cried and told me that he hadn't been hugged in almost 10 years because people don't want to touch him since they view as if he's a wild animal. To this day, it's still one of the most emotional moments I've ever experienced and since then, I volunteer whenever I can to serve hot meals to homeless during the holidays.

  10. This is really touching. Thank you for sharing. I live in Manhattan and I see homeless people on a daily basis. It's a huge problem here and while trying to help everyone can seem insurmountable, helping one person or several people when you can does make a difference. Volunteering is so important.

  11. i completely agree with helene. when i lived in chicago and would have left overs i would always offer them to the first homeless person i saw. many were appreciative and took the food. others would turn the food away and ask for money. or tell me 'no, i don't want pizza, i had it yesterday'.

  12. I'm so glad you came to the party, Kym! I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to meet and actually talk to you - next time. :) Thanks for sharing this story, too. It's such a hard thing to encounter people in need and feel helpless, but your willingness to hand over your food is a testament to what we are capable of, no matter how tiny the gesture might feel. Who knows how long it had been since the dude had something to eat, you know? Well done.

  13. I get that way too... nothing makes me more thankful. Pssshhh, if you are willing to get on a plane or drive to Cali, there is room at our Thanksgiving! Haha

  14. I'm a new follower and just wanted to stop and comment on this post. It's incredibly lovely. We all get caught up in our own lives and forget what others are going through out there and we forget to appreciate how important something as simple as a meal or a warm blanket are. We don't have many homeless people in the town that I live in, but whenever I go into Chicago it overwhelms me with sadness because I, too, almost never carry cash. And even if I do, I simply don't have enough money to help all of these people. I do what I can, but I wish there was something more that could be done!

    Jamie @
    The Growing Up Diaries

    1. Hi Jamie! It's a pleasure to "meet" you! Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. It's very overwhelming when we walk around downtown. While we can't help them all, I've been looking into volunteering at the church around the corner who serves meals every Monday. I'm sure if you did a quick search you might be surprised to find the same type of service opportunity in your own town. xoxo


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