Friday, November 7, 2008

Into The Night

After work yesterday, my wife and I went to a mini-mall to return some clothes she had purchased the day before for our grandson. Apparently, the sizes were wrong and she was exchanging them for the correct size. After she finished exchanging the clothes, we decided to walk over to a nearby Wendy's and grab a bite to eat. Here of late, every fast food spot I go into is a haven for bums and this one was no different. A young man who didn't look as though he had his first shave yet, propositioned me for some "spare change to buy a sandwich" almost as soon as I stepped in the line.

Lately, I've had a soft spot for the homeless and the destitute so, I reached in my pocket and gave him four quarters. As I handed him the quarters, I noticed that he already had a couple of dollars crumpled up into his hands. That was okay, because the cheapest burger in Wendy's is about $ 3.67 plus tax so, I know that a dollar wasn't going to buy him anything. I could halfway appreciate that he was hustling for a meal but, the young man didn't stay in line. He walked to the back of the store, faced the window, and appeared to be counting his money. It was then that my wife said to me, "You know he's not going to buy a sandwich with your money, don't you? But, that's okay... the Lord will bless you anyway because he knows your heart was in the right place."

The young man then approached a woman coming in the store with the same line he used on me. She looked at him as though he was out of his mind and kept walking. I'm sure his pride, his ego, and sense of manhood was wounded being blown off like that so to cover it up, he laughed a loud maniacal laugh as though it didn't really bother him... the laugh of black psychosis in its beginning stages. He came back in the store and approached another patron who, like me, let go of a buck or two. Now satisfied with his take for the night, he then left the Wendy's and crossed the traffic filled boulevard into the night.

My wife and I wondered aloud just what is going to happen to young men like him in the coming years. I said to her that he is going to die on the streets. Bleak, it is, but not hard to see. I don't know his story. I don't know anything about him. But, it was not hard to figure out by the way he moved, the gait, the shake, and the constant moving that he was a substance abuser and he was collecting money, not to eat, but to go and cop. I had seen his type before and a part of me knew who and what he was the minute I first saw him in the line. Perhaps, my wife didn't recognize the signs but, she hasn't been where I've been and hasn't known the type of people I've known.

This guy could possibly be like so many young men I know... a high school drop out and he certainly didn't look like he was working anywhere. He was the kind that is out on the corner early in the morning and still out there when the working folks come home, having done absolutely nothing with their day and having done the same thing today that he did yesterday... nothing.

I'm letting my imagination run wild here because I don't know that... he could've been home from college and bumming money for books for next semester too, I really don't know. But, do you think he would've been that jittery over Freshman Statistics or English Lit? I just thought briefly about yesterday and Obama, who achieved greatness despite all of the odds against him. I also thought about Malcolm X, Dr. King, and other great men. Then, I thought about this young guy who I don't know and who disappeared into the night... seemingly hopeless and futureless. I felt a sadness like I haven't felt in a very long time.


Toni said...

That was a very touching story Keith.

Toni said...

I am first again,whooopeeee!!!

Angie B. said...

@Toni-Who cares that you are first-lolololol.
Keith, I don't give people any money when I see them like that.I usually ask them if I can buy them some food. They usually walk away and that's how I know they aint for real.

Toni said...

@Angie B.- Don't hate girl, co-operate!-lolol

Sunflower said...

Hi Keith,you put an interesting spin on a complex subject..What to do about a generation of seemingly
lost young men. We've got to reach out and save them...I hope you delve deeper into this in later posts.

James Perkins said...

Hey Keith, I agree with Angie B. I offer to buy people food...if they walk away, I know that they are hustling me.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Hey Keith, You got played son..I offer em 42 cents so they can buy a stamp and mail off a job application.

Lisa said...

You seem to have a good heart Keith. That young boy probably ruined it for someone who might really need the money one day.

Opinionated Diva said...

I read this and immediately thought like your wife...dude is not trying to get a meal.

I wonder about this generation that's coming up. So many of them are lost and don't seem to want to be shown the way. They're too busy trying to get over.

When I was a teen, I couldn't wait to get my "working papers", so I could work...make my own money...experience life.

Today's kids just don't seem like they want much out of life.

It really is sad.

Strongblkwmn said...

Our youth have grown up in a society of instant gratification and it's a shame. It's destroying lives. I try to stay as close to my kids as I possibly can without smothering them so that they feel comfortable coming to me with whatever's on their minds. At the same time you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

It's rough out here. I pray for that young man and all the young men and women like him. Who knows what his story may be.

ZACK said...

You and I are on the same wavelength. My most recent blog is about this problem.

SLC said...

Hi Keith. I deal with issues like this on a case by case basis, and I definitely don't feel you got played.
Do you remember my post a week ago about Mephibosheths? Well he's one of them. Yeah he's definitely got issues, but there but for the grace of God go I. Maybe next time you can drop a nugget of wisdom on him as you slowly pass him some change.

If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD – and he will repay you! Proverbs 19:17


Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing, you gave with good intentions and to me that is what matters most. Maybe he was gonna get hight with it, who knows.

I figure if I gave with good intentions that is what matters most.

CurvyGurl said...

I'm with SLC on this one. You have to go with your heart and intuition. There's no penalty on your part for looking out for another.


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