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.