Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ham and Jesus

Back in August we drove back to PA for vacation. As we prepared for the 17-hour trip back to Florida my Mom packed us a bunch of snacks and drinks for our trip. There were cookies, chips, cans of soda, and about 8 ham and cheese sandwiches (Mom was trying to clear out the fridge).

After 8 hours of driving we decided to stop at a Cracker Barrel in NC. As we pulled off of I-95 and into the parking lot, I noticed a rust colored pick up truck facing us. The truck was kind of sticking out of the driveway and as we approached. We could not get around the pick-up. I looked at the driver and through my hands in the air in frustration. The driver, a ratty looking guy made a hand gesture, which I thought meant, “go around” So I did. I made the turn and waved back to the driver to say “thanks”.

We were making our way through the crowded parking lot I noticed the truck turn around and follow us. I pointed this out to Lauren, “Crap. The guy thought I probably gave him the finger or something.” The rust colored pick up was clearly leaving the parking lot when we pulled in. Why would he turn around? I told Lauren to wait in the car.

I got out of the car, a little nervous, thinking there was going to be a confrontation. The guy parked his pick up a few spaces away and approached me. The muscles in my neck tensed up, my palms started to get a little sweaty.

“Excuse me.” He said, “My car just broke down and I had to put a new alternator and I have another 6 hours drive and my wife is pregnant and starving. I was hoping you could spare some money so I can get her something to eat.”
I heard what he said but my mind was racing. I have dealt with my fair share of panhandlers. I puffed up my chest and said, “No! I can’t help you out. Sorry!”

He took a step back. “I don’t mean any harm but she needs to eat.”

“Look buddy, I don’t have any cash on me.” I shot back.

He walked way.

I was flustered as I tried to un-strap Maxfield from his car seat, adrenaline pumping through my body. I told Lauren what the guy wanted and that I could not believe the guy would be panhandling. That he actually turned around in the parking lot to ask us for money. The nerve.

Lauren said something to the effect of “What if he really did need food? We have all those sandwiches your mom made. Offer him the sandwiches.”

I sighed, knowing that I was probably too harsh to the guy. I grabbed a few sandwiches and a couple of cans of ginger ale and ran over to his truck. He started to walk towards me, followed by a woman who had to me at least 8 months pregnant. I said, “Look, I’m sorry. I don’t have any money but you said you needed food. This is what I have.”

He took the sandwiches and handed them to the woman and she unwrapped one, right there, and took a huge bite. She really was hungry. He thanked me and they got into their truck and they left.

Later, in the restaurant, I was telling Lauren that I felt bad about my initial response to the guy. And she said, “Yeah. You never know it could have been God testing you. Hell it could have been Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus.”

My Mom was happy that her sandwiches fed Jesus.

24 comments:

Meegs said...

I hate situations like that. I don't carry money normally, using just my debit or credit card... so I honestly can say that I don't have money. But I wouldn't give them money even on the rare instance tht I do have it. However, if I have food with me, be it a granola bar or a sandwich, I will normally give them that.
I'm glad that you fed Jesus.

Jewl said...

I am with Lauren on this one... Ya never know...

Kami said...

You fed the baby Jesus! WOW!!!

kalki said...

Jesus or no, giving him the sandwiches seems like the right thing. Although I think my immediate reaction would have been to say no, too.

Stacie said...

I've had to say no many times, there were so many panhandlers in Seattle it was crazy. Most were scrounging change for the next bottle or college kids paying their way. Sometimes I felt really bad and would go to McD's and take it back to them. For awhile I carried an extra sandwich to drop off to a guy I would see every day on my way to school. shhh don't tell my hubby he'd just kill me! He has this thing about feeding strays and having them follow you home. In your case that could have been good though..It never hurts to house baby Jesus for awhile!

ieatcrayonz said...

Lauren is right.

It's a tough world we live in. Trust is no longer something we freely give. Glad to hear that you passed the test, although I'm sure they were wondering WTF you were doing at a restaurant when you had food in the car.

Just kidding.

eclectic said...

Awwwww... that's a good ending, but I thought this was going down the path of toddler-speak, you know... "Daddy, I want ham and Jesus, please." Which would be entertaining, but probably not as spiritual as giving food to the baby Jesus a few weeks before Christmas.

Circus Kelli said...

Sometimes, it's so hard to trust other people, especially when our family is nearby and could get hurt as well.

Good on you guys.

No_Newz said...

You two did a really good thing for those people. Now, if only you could send some wine my way... ;)
Lois Lane

Carol said...

It's great that you went back to him. After you'd maybe been too harsh. Good man.

p.s. I came here from Amanda's. I loved your comment on the politically-middle people.

Dottie said...

Ok, that made me cry! My first reaction to people asking for money is always no but if I can, I would give them food. The movie "Pay It Forward" comes to mind as does that country song. It hurts my heart to think of people in our day and age living like that, I realize just how blessed I am!

Good Job!

Random and Odd said...

*tackle hug*

Do you know how hard it probably was for that guy to ask anyone for anything?

I love you and Lauren.

SoozieQ said...

That was very nice of you. I tried doing something similar once...a man with a puppy was asking for money for food. He said his puppy was REALLY hungry. I went into a store and bought puppy food AND some food for the guy and brought it out to him.

He got all pissed off at me and said he just wanted the f*$*@*! money.

I did not think he was God after that comment.

Tammy said...

Such a sad state the world is in. You never know when it is safe to help somebody because of a few (okay, more than a few) bad apples.

Most people suck. You on the other hand, don't.

Kari said...

It's so sad that we have to feel that way. I felt the adrenaline too as I was reading your story.

It is definatly hard to believe that people actually live like that. Ian always tells me that everyone has a responsibility to them selves, to help themselves. I believe that, but I just can't turn someone down that wants food. It truely hurts my heart to see it.

Thank you, from all mankind, for feeding Mary and Jesus.

Amanda B. said...

I know, those are always tricky situations for me too. I usually give a few dollars if I can, just because it's hard to know why the person is in their particular situation. I'm not sure that's always the best idea though.

You and your wife are sweethearts.

Susie said...

I'm glad you gave them some sandwiches. If it was me pregnant and hungry I might've beaten my husbands' ass if he didn't come up with some food. You probably saved his life.

kimmyk said...

one time in georgia i felt really bad because there was this homeless man i'd always see around my work. so one day i bought him a happy meal from mcd's and when i gave him his pop and bag of food he threw the pop at my car and the food he threw into the street. scared me to death.

i'm all for helping a brother out but holy crap...it scares me everytime.

i hope next time i get to feed the baby Jesus...

mrtl said...

Beautiful story!

Mama Duck said...

I'm not a terribly religious person, but that was a great story. I'm sure they really appreciated your kindness and generosity.

Effie said...

So sweet! Glad you gave him some sandwiches?!

LizzieDaisy said...

While we were in Boston this summer, we stopped at a McD's downtown and were feasting and I couldn't help but feel guilty watching this guy camped out in front with a sign asking for food. I finally went up to him and asked if he was actually hungry or just wanted money for booze. He said money, but that he was hungry too. I took the honesty part and said I'd buy him some McD's. He said great but no little shit hamburger. The nerve. Really! But I was in a good mood so I went and got him the largest meal in there. He was freaking shocked. Tried to "God Bless Me." I told him to save it and do something nice for someone else that day.

I find it VERY hard to pass up people who need help. In my city though, anyone can get in a shelter (they have great ones too that will train you for a job) if they want to so if I see someone with a sign, I know it's cause they refused to give up the alcohol and drugs. Very sad.

Good for you for doing the right thing. I would have been scared too though... especially with the family there.

Mainline Mom said...

That is the best, funniest, sweetest story ever. I know what it's like to be 8 months pregnant and starving, but I always had money to buy food. I'm with Susie, I would've eaten my hubs if he didn't get me food.

And I'm with Lauren to. "Whatever you do for the least of these..."

island Jen said...

I Loved that story. I've been in that situation, travelling by myself 8 months prego- by chance I had no money, debit cards wouldn't work- gestational diabetic (i HAVE to eat) Than-God for the kindness of strangers. I'm going to rename my son 'Jesus'. Just kidding, maybe an additional middle name...