I Looked Behind Me

We were out in the sloppy wet day today.   The temperatures have dropped by twenty or thirty degrees in the last few days.   It’s cold and wet and I know I wasn’t prepared for it.  Some others even less so.

We were out running errands with my mom.  I left one store and hustled to the car in the rain with mom and was just closing my door when I saw or heard someone, I’m not sure what registered first.  Him saying something or something in my peripheral vision.   I rolled my window down.   He stood there with his reddish brown hair and beard, neither looking cared for.  He had on a jacket and a couple of layers under that.   He was not a happy looking fella.  My immediate reaction was sorrow for him, and sympathy.  I don’t always have that reaction when I’m approached and asked for money.

He said “I’m wet, I’m cold,  I’m homeless and just wanted to know if you had any change.”   I told him that was all I had.  Which was true.  I seldom have cash with me.  I had to dig in the console to pull out what I had.  It wasn’t much at all.   I told him I appreciated his honesty.   He glanced at the sky and shrugged and said it was just a “crappy cold day”.   I agreed with him.  When I had dug out the change I could find and put it in his hand he turned quickly and left.

My mom was getting in the other side of the car and my husband was still in another store.  I was driving mom to grab a very quick bite,  for one of those unexplainable guilty pleasure desires.  Taco Bell.

I was backing out and driving across the large expanse from one shopping area to another.   Suddenly it occurred to me I could have asked the man to come to Taco Bell and I would buy him lunch.   I looked behind me but he was gone.   When I got to the parking lot for Taco Bell I looked back to see if I could see him.  I couldn’t.  It made me feel bad that I didn’t think quick enough to do something just a little bit kinder.

It also made me remember a sloppy wet day for me is not the same for all.  A day seemingly made to slow down, visit, take time to relax even, not make big plans.  Just hang out with my mom and my husband.  Get a few things done and eat home made pineapple cake courtesy of my mom.  It was a day to not worry and not feel like I had to work my way through it.

For others, and for whatever reason, it’s a crappy cold day.

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42 thoughts on “I Looked Behind Me

  1. I think, that you did your best in that moment Colleen. Don’t feel bad about that, you were not ignoring him as many others would do.


  2. Paul says:

    I’m with Irene – you gave what you had and you thought about his plight. That’s way more than many others do. I am guilty of turning my back on panhandlers – not always but sometimes. I was leaving a liquor store in my car one day with a friend -Penny – when I was approached by street person. I had to stop to wait for traffic and when he asked if I could spare any change, I lied and told him I didn’t have any. My thought was that he was obviously going to use the money to buy alcohol. Penny reached over and gave him $5 for which he thanked her effusively. I pointed out to Penny that he was likely just going to buy alcohol and she just smiled and told me that what he did with the money wasn’t her business – that he had asked and so she had given. That simple. And Penny is a single Mom with 6 kids who works as a school teacher – she could ill afford it. I felt embarrassed at my stinginess, for judging, and realized Penny was right.

    Thank you for your story Colleen, it is an important one (and those Tacos are delicious for the price. aren’t they? 😀 )


    • I’ve had that same lesson myself Paul. Where someone with me made the comment that it was up to me to give or not, that’s my decision. What the receiver does with the gift is up to the receiver, it doesn’t change my desire to help or be kind (or whatever my reason for giving was).

      And mom’s comment about the tacos was the same thing! There’s just something about them!!!


  3. Jim McKeever says:

    I agree with Irene as well, Colleen. You’re firmly entrenched on the kindness end of the human behavior continuum.


  4. One time I had gone grocery shopping and was getting to my car. A man approached me asking for money for gas. I had prayed when I saw him coming. Something had told me to give him $10, which I did. He was so happy that he made sure he loaded all my groceries into my car for me and thanked me profusely. I have never regretted that. Even if he bought wine with it. I enjoyed your post Colleen! I will take a piece of that pineapple cake with my coffee. LOL!!


  5. Experiencing my first fall in North Carolina. Seems mid 60’s in day and 50’s at night. Believe me I find that refreshing after 60 years in Miami , Florida. Helps me cut down on cigarette count too as a little too nippy out there for that periodic smoke.


  6. Send some of that wet weather here. Maybe there was another Colleen who saw that man and bought him lunch while you looked away? ❤


  7. reocochran says:

    Such a good reminder to me, Colleen. I don’t give quarters because I do laundry, I have had 2 purses stolen so I only carry one debit card and no cash. I could ask if I could run and get a meal for someone. Wonderful, you will remember and you multiplied this suggestion by all readers. I can certainly charge a $5 meal and nor mess up my budget! Hugs for this thoughtful idea. xo


    • It did occur to me afterwards that I will remember it more quickly next time. If the man had asked me and I wasn’t in my car I wouldn’t have had anything to give him. It is very seldom that I have cash with me. So buying a meal next time will be my go to!


  8. I woke up yesterday. Opened the curtains and it was snowing. Ugh. Don’t be hard on yourself Colleen. Next time you’ll think of Taco Bell. 😉

    260 days until summer. ❤
    Diana xo


  9. I have had the same thing happen Colleen the feeling stays but you did help some.


  10. ksbeth says:

    all a matter of perspective. i think you did what you could at the time and considered more after, making you more ready to help the next time. it was a lesson and you learned it well –


  11. It’s nice of you to have thought of that man. I grew up in NY and was always going into Manhattan where there are just tons of homeless people and it’s hard to be sympathetic to every story. I’m almost ashamed to say that I may have grown a bit immune to everyone’s plights. So there’s that from the other side of the coin, but on the other hand, this is also an important reminder for me.


    • I know, it’s so difficult. In the past few months we’ve been hit with the “I ran out of gas” claim too often. It’s frustrating because by nature we want to help. I realize we can’t all help every single time. This guy just put it out there bluntly and plainly. I preferred that to the ‘stories’ that I’ve been told. (I may be cynical but when you hear the exact same story from different sources repeatedly…..).


      • See yes, and that’s pretty much what I meant to. A common one is when they come over with an exact amount, like ‘I just ran out of gas and need $1.25 to get home’. I mean, I’m sure they need money for SOMETHING but I’ve just heard that one too often. On the other hand, if I see a mother out with a child, that just breaks my heart. There was a woman on the freeway that would be out with a sign that said ‘Homeless grandma’. That was a first for me.


        • So many stories. So many truths and lies and combinations of both. I love one of my coworkers (social services field) who saw a man who had his wife (and maybe kids???) stand with him. She told him she would take him to Job and Family Services to get help with food and shelter, he refused. There are many reasons why he could have refused, but being hungry and homeless is not 2 of them.


  12. Gibber says:

    How very sweet of you. Mmm Taco Bell!


  13. It was a crappy cold day. You did the best you could. You’ll do better next time. I’ve given $20 to a person who said they needed gas money and am now sure it was a scam. i’ve given change when I could. You never know the other person’s story and you have to be safe. You are still going to feel badly but you’ll be better prepared next time you are surprised like that.


    • It’s true. As other comments have pointed out. I will think of it next time. We’ve been scammed as well and that’s what bothers me. People who are scamming are part of the reason why some folks don’t give, they want it to go to someone in need, not someone scamming. Thank you MW51 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. niaaeryn says:

    It was very kind of you, something better than nothing. As to Taco Bell, we all have our restaurant guilty pleasure, no judgement. 🙂


    • Thanks for the judgement free zone 😉

      And it was better than nothing. I hope. THough something I didn’t write, he kept looking around the parking lot at others getting in the car and took off without even a thank you trying to catch the next person. For some reason, that made me sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. markbialczak says:

    Next time you will be ready, MBC. He may say no thank you. He knows he has a stigma and that would be hard to get past for him. My feeling on the awfulness of that situation.


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