All I Wanted To Do Was Give Him a Sandwich.

January 28, 2007

My grandmother spent the day with us today and we took her home late afternoon so she can go to a church function. On the way home after going through the extremely affluent neighborhood of Burton Salmon, we finally got to the little town in which I live which looks more than a little disheveled compared to the neighborhood we had just driven through. As we were driving up the road perpendicular to the street on which we live we spotted a man who appeared to be homeless. He was carrying his worldly possessions in black plastic bags his clothing and entire person appeared to be quite dirty.

My mother said to me that we should invite him home and give him a cup of tea and a sandwich. I said that we simply couldn’t do it, not only could he be physically or healthfully dangerous to us, once he is inside our home he can look around and see what is here to come back and take later. I suggested that because we can’t bring him in, we would be at little risk to take a sandwich and a bottle of water to him. For some reason, even though I see homeless folk all the time in Leeds, I felt especially strong about giving this man something to eat even if it was just a sandwich. The weather is not the best, in fact it’s pretty damned cold and windy today.

We talked it over a couple of minutes while I frantically ripped the kitchen apart looking for a bottle I could fill to take him. I soon realised we didn’t have one. My mom made a turkey sandwich and wrapped it with some cookies in tin foil. I got the car back out of the garage and we went out in search of this man who we had seen for only a moment. When I look back on our actions they seem so silly now, so absurd but that the time I was determined to make this random vagrant’s day just that little bit easier and hopefully his night a little warmer with a slightly fuller belly.

Our search took us only a few miles around in a big circle and we started out where we saw him just a quarter of a mile from our home. At the end of the road I got out of the car and asked a man who I saw approaching. “Have you seen a homeless man come down here in the last few minutes?” As I asked him the words stuck in my throat. Homeless. The man was homeless. Where would he go? Where would I go if I were homeless?

We found the man a few minutes later, he had doubled back and headed up for the top of the hill. He was standing outside the Prince of Wales Hospice Shop and we pulled up. I got out. “Sir! Excuse me sir” I said to the man who was quite obviously very uncomfortable. He didn’t trust me anymore than I would him in my home. “I was just wondering if you wanted a sandwich”…Again the words stuck in my mouth. I felt like a total ass asking this man, who didn’t know me from Adam if he wanted a sandwich. In this day and age I could have been offering him the dead remains of my latest dismemberment victim.

“No..No Mate…”, He said as he continued walking. I gave up quickly. There was nothing more to say. I couldn’t force the man to take the sandwich and cookie my mom and I had so righteously prepared for him. As I got back in the car, I felt no better, he didn’t want the sandwich. Maybe he wasn’t homeless. Now that would have been embarrassing! But if I were homeless and someone offered me a sandwich, all wrapped up, I wouldn’t refuse it. I wouldn’t tear it open and eat it right away either. I would take it with me and dissect it later. Making sure the do-gooders weren’t trying to kill me with shards of lead or a thin razor blades as this has been known to happen. It just so happens though that this particular sandwich that we wanted to give this particular man was freshly made out of kindness and generosity. This little tale makes me think twice before running after a person again, just to be kind. The message I got today was probably not representative of every homeless person I’ll ever meet but it sure did feel like a kick in the teeth. …All I wanted to do was give him a sandwich.

-This is the first article written for SebRT.com under the new name, Seb’s Raw Takes.

7 Responses to “All I Wanted To Do Was Give Him a Sandwich.”

  1. dun4d Says:

    Did you eat the sandwich? If not your wasting food that a poor 3rd world orphan could have had. Just to add a bit more of a downer on the day😉


  2. My mom ate it Jack…I didn’t want to touch it. -Seb

  3. Tristan Says:

    Sebastian–Here’s some things to think about. Remember to do everything you do with love. Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven (Matthew 15.16). Not to be glorified yourself, but to glorify God.

    (Emmanuel Kant has some interesting things to say too.)

    Matthew 6.2: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Matthew 25.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Luke 21.1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.[a] 3″I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

    Proverbs 28.27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

    1 Corinthians 13.3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

    Ad maiorem Dei gloriam+ (to the greater glory of God)

    Tui frater. (your brother)


  4. […] a natural human impulse: see someone in pain, and try to ease it. “All I Wanted To Do Was Give Him a Sandwich, says […]

  5. munchyrat Says:

    Oh – for goodness sake! Of course the sandwich can’t be sent to an orphan in Africa! That’s a guilt-trip parents used to lay on children to resolve supper-table conflicts! What do you want to do? – airfreight an old sarny?

    Seb, as you’ve discovered, the instinct to want to help is strong – but it’s not an instinct that teaches how to make it work. You could say it’s like the instinct to survive when you fall into deep water… it doesn’t teach you how to swim.

    To help, requires knowing what help is actually needed. And it also requires a trusting relationship between you and the recipient. Watch someone give a worm to a Robin redbreast; it can be done! – but the bird won’t take anything from you the first time you try it.

    Keep at it. Find out how to get involved, first.

  6. Erel Says:

    Well that would explain why the poor man is homeless. He obviously doesn’t like to accept anything from people…

  7. John B Says:

    Interesting story Seb… Illustrative of many things, mostly of the fact that making an effort to help another person sometimes has unexpected consequences! Often these are good, sometimes not so. Here at least no one really suffered.

    Nice to read someone quoting Christ on a non-religious blog! Now that’s a treat!

    To sum up, a well written and worthwhile (in the telling) story. I like the new blog name also.😉


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