Sunday, March 15, 2009

Feeling guilt

I have made a policy to be as honest as possible on my blog. So I’m going to tell this next story even though I would rather forget it.

Last week I drove across LA during my lunch hour without stopping to eat. When I arrive near my home, I stopped for a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A. I ordered chicken strips and a diet coke. I bought two boxes of four strips each. It was 3:30 pm. I was hungry.

I pulled to a stop at a traffic light in the left turn lane. Ahead of me was a woman in a car with several Christian bumper stickers. You know what I mean, a car with three or four stickers telling people to read the bible, and go to church. I watched as a homeless man showed a cardboard to the lady. She shooed him away and rolled up her window. I did not think it odd, in fact I thought it prudent. The man was large and scary looking.

I did not make it through the intersection when the light changed. As I pulled to a stop to wait for another three minutes, I reached for a chicken strip, dipped it in sauce, and made the Team Fortress Om Nom Nom Nom sound as I munched on it. I looked up to see the homeless man standing on the road divider next to me. His sign read, “I need help”. He asked for money, well… spare change actually. I shook my head no. I had no money to give.

I had food, but my thoughts ran to my own empty stomach, so I did not offer it. And this is where I failed. I should have offered him my lunch. I can always get something else. I have the means.  But I have this thing with food, I think it explains one of the reasons why I’m fat. I simply do not like to pass up a meal. I continued to munch on my lunch. The homeless man would go hungry.  I would eat.

The homeless man spoke to me again, “Please, is there anything you can do? I’m starving”. I was conscious of the fact that I was stuffing a chicken strip in my mouth as he asked. The guilt hit me like a physical force. I Immediately offered my lunch. He jumped off the divider and ran to my window. I handed him what was left of my lunch. He actually said, “Are you sure? This is your lunch.” I told him that I could get more. He smiled, bumped my fist, and ran across the street with my delicious lunch held to his chest. As I turned the corner, I saw him noshing away in the shade of a sign. In my mind I heard, Om nom nom nom. He waved in thanks as I drove away.

If I am to be consistent with the application of my values, I must be able to give freely, even if it means skipping a meal. I was ashamed of myself for a number of things that happened in my brief encounter with the homeless. I’ll do better next time. 

A special thanks to Kat, who prompted me to tell my story through telling me a story of her own. Kat, thanks for the kind words and thanks for sharing your story with me. Kat has the blogs My Single Mom Life and Kat Scan on the Atheist Blogroll.