24 December 2009

"I have Diabetes"..."I'm Not Hungry"..."I'm a Vegetarian"

Tonight is Christmas Eve and I started my evening out in a very cheery mood. Melynda and Gabe were coming over for a small Christmas dinner, and everything was in order. The table was set all fancy, and the dinner was all prepped and ready to go. I was planning on having a great evening.

After Thanksgiving dinner, Melynda and I had talked about filling a plate and driving around to find a homeless person to give it too. We got carried away with the evening and the many guests and forgot. We were determined to feed a less-fortunate person tonight. As soon as we finished eating, we loaded up a large Ziplock container with duck, mashed potatoes, candies yams, green beans almondine, cranberry sauce, stuffing, dinner rolls, pecan pie, and Christmas cookies. We bagged all the food up with a bottle of water, a coke, plastic utensils, wet wipes, and even a Coors Light that was left in my fridge from last nights beer can chicken (it's Christmas, what the heck).

Melynda and I were so excited to head out and give all of this yumminess to some appreciative hungry person. There are a lot of homeless people in Hawaii. I guess it makes sense because I couldn't personally think of a better place to live outside. Anyway, there is one guy in particular that Melynda and I are fond of. He is always wearing an Army shirt, and is always very grateful even if all I have to offer him is a granola bar, a pack of tinker bell fruit snacks and half a bottle of water. We named him Tom, but have decided to ask him his name one of these days. When we left the house tonight, we really wanted to find Tom. We found someone else in the spot where Tom can usually be found. This someone did not deserve to be named by us! On his way to our window he waved off someone trying to hand him a dollar, then changed his mind and went back to take it anyway. As he walked from that car to my car, I could hear him mutter, "Cheap somabitch". What?!?!? "Okay", I thought, "calm down. Even mean people need to eat". I reached for the goodies and tried to hand it the man. He turned his nose up and walked away yelling, "I'm Diabetic". He acted mad, like it was rude of me to be unaware of his condition and offer him a good meal. I think it was pretty clear he was only expecting cash. Both Melynda and I were completely shocked and didn't quite know how to react.

We set off down the road, passing Crazy Mary, the woman who lives at the bus stop across the parking lot from where Brad works. Crazy Mary has earned her name by yelling at strangers, trying to direct traffic, and numerous other psycho things that made us a little hesitant to stop for her. We drove by her and decided that we would stop on our way back if we couldn't find anyone else. We really wanted to find Tom, because we knew he would appreciate us.

We were cruising down the Nimitz Highway, and it started to rain. Melynda and I thought that the rain would lower our chances of finding someone outside and became a bit pessimistic. We continued to voice our disbelief about the "diabetic" guy. Our spirits were dropping lower with each empty corner we passed. We realized that what we were doing, trying to share our dinner with a hungry person, was almost as much for us as it was for the person in need. We wanted to feel good about our good deed, and we were pissed that we couldn't find someone to allows us to experience that. We were not being selfless people. We were just as needy as a starving homeless person. We needed to feed someone to be fulfilled ourselves. We were determined, though it might not have been for the right reasons.

We finally found a lady at a bus stop. We rolled down the window and politely asked her if she was hungry. She replied, "No, I'm not hungry. But, thank you for asking." We smiled and started to drive off (because the light was green), and as we were rolling away we think she was starting to tell us where we could find someone who was hungry...but it was too late. We were cruising again.

At least that lady was nice about it. But, seriously? How can our food be rejected by two homeless people. We had set out to do something good, and we were completely failing! I was distracted and accidentally got on the highway when we finally decided that we would try Crazy Mary. We had to drive by the first guy again to get to her. He came up to our window with a sign that read, "75 cents, please help the homeless". We thought about handing him three quarters, but just left the windows rolled up. I was mad at him.

We made it to Crazy Mary's bus stop and asked her if she was hungry. It turns out she is a vegetarian. I started to sympathize with her...I'd go crazy too, if I didn't eat meat for 10 years. Anyway, our cookies, water, stuffing, green beans, yams, etc weren't vegetarian enough for her I guess, because she passed too! What we thought was a kind gesture had now been REJECTED by three homeless people. What the heck?

Gabe and Brad were wondering why we had been gone so long, and Brad was calling me telling me that Sam was getting hungry. We had been driving around for 45 minutes at this point, so we decided to visit the guys that were working the gate on Christmas Eve. The two guards that were on shift, checking IDs to get on base, were very appreciative for the food, pie, cookies, etc. I told them not to drink the beer until they got home. :)

Melynda and I were finally fulfilled. I know that shouldn't be what it is all about, but we couldn't home un-empty handed. we tried so hard to feed a needy person, but they didn't need us. The guys at the gate needed us to brighten their evening, and we needed them to appreciate our gesture. I guess it worked out after all. The thing I just cannot get is how people who do not know the contents of our offering could refuse it so hastily.

I cannot speak for Melynda, but my heart took a little bit of a beating tonight. When we left the house on our mission, we were completely different than when we returned. Before we left, we talked about making a resolution to make food and hunt for homeless people on a regular basis, instead of just on holidays. I'm not sure that we will stick with that one now. :(

We had some wine and played some Apples to Apples, and were still able to enjoy our Christmas eve, but I don't think I will be able to get over the things that happened tonight. I'm thankful for the things I have, and wish I could share with others...but it's kind of hard to find people who want me to share with them, and that is discouraging.

Happy Christmas to all of the diabetics, vegetarians and non-hungry people out there. May they all find some other way to be fulfilled, if not by my yummy dinner.

Seriously though, Happy Christmas to everyone!


Anonymous said...

I never give anything to homeless people, for several reasons. First, because I have heard of several people offering work to homeless people and them turning it down. My uncle even offered a guy min wage AND meals for him to come work on something in his yard. The guy replied "I make more here." Second, I know some of them are mentally ill and that's why they are homeless, but some are also on drugs and will use my money to get more. I've been in 7-11 and watched a homeless man buy cigarettes, I'm sure with money that some well meaning person offered him for food. Once I offered a homeless guy outside McDonalds a cheese burger, and he turned it down and asked for money. Third, have you ever watched Intervention? There's been quite a few homeless people on there and they live well enough homeless that they don't "reach the bottom" and get the help they need. You would also think no one would WANT to be homeless, but on the show I saw people who liked it, and saw the people that gave them money as "suckers." I feel sorry for the people that are mentally ill, they do need help, but even among them there are people who are out there because they CHOOSE to not take their medications, not because they have no other means to care for themselves. So, there are a lot of reasons why I don't give to the homeless directly... organizations that help the homeless are ok though.

Dean said...

Great entry Amy. I second Cori's comment. Homeless ministry is not a feel-good ministry. Sometimes your heart gets hardened. I remember leaving a cafe once and this homeless guy asked for some change. I told him to wait while I walked into the cafe to get him a bagel. I buy the bagel, come out and offer it to him and he tells me he's not hungry. After that experience I resolved to never give out money recklessly to homeless people. I had a friend who used to give away Safeway/Save-Mart cards to homeless people. At the time you couldn't buy booze or cigarettes with it, only food. I'm not sure if things have changed with gift cards. The fact of the matter is that there is help available and it is up to people to take advantage of it or not in order to get them off the street. Merry Christmas to you.

Amanda Evans said...

I like the army T-shirt Tom, too! Maybe Stacey and I will find him this week! I can't believe three people turned you down. It is unfortunate that they only want money. I guess they are not starving after all. I still think you should continue offering food. Tom always appreciated it! Rice cakes and all (that was all I had one day). See you soon!