Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word



A few weeks ago I spent a leisurely Sunday sipping coffee and wandering around town. I slept late, then got up and brewed a pot of coffee in my new coffee maker. It’s really too big for one person, but Karma gave it to me and I love the smell of coffee warming throughout the day. It uses about the same amount of grounds to brew two cups or six cups, so I opted to err on the side of excess.

I was headed to the library to return some books and check out a couple of DVD’s, then planned to return home and spend the afternoon doing mindless internet research and watching videos. The library didn’t open until one, so I took a long hot bath, enjoyed a nice breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs and cheese. My cozy little home seemed even cozier with the smell of coffee and potatoes. It was bitter cold outside, and I was happy for the chance to wear my wonderful boots, awesome hat and warm parka. My heart was full of joy as I poured myself a cup of coffee for the walk downtown.

As I approached the library I saw an old man standing on the sidewalk, in the seemingly endless line of homeless people asking for money. He wobbled on his feet and had a wild look in his eyes, watching closely everyone who walked past him, but not speaking to them. His beard was long and white, with brown stains on the strands around his mouth, from coffee, cigarettes, and lack of washing. His fingernails were too long and filled with dirt, and his teeth had obviously not seen a toothbrush for a long time.

He watched me closely as I passed, but didn’t solicit me in any way. I could feel him watching me as I entered the library and I felt a little odd, although I didn’t really know why. I returned my items and thanked the universe for my good fortune when I found a full season of 30 Rock that I hadn’t seen. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes, and again found myself walking before the old man. As I approached him he wobbled on his feet toward me, and I braced myself to tell him I didn’t have any change. His question surprised me.

“How many coins for your hot beverage?” He asked. I could barely understand him, and for some reason, I quickly turned him down.

“Sorry, God Bless.” And I walked on. He persisted, wobbling a couple of more steps behind me.

“I’ll give you some coins for you hot drink. How much?” He insisted.

I’m ashamed to say I simply walked away. I felt immediately guilty, but kept on walking. By the time I was consumed with guilt I was already several blocks away, and rationalized it wouldn’t make any sense to go back. Why had I reacted that way? I certainly had plenty of coffee waiting for me at home. I was dressed warmly, and didn’t really need the hot liquid to warm my belly. Ashamed, I went home and tried to forget about it.

I couldn’t. That old man and my selfishness has haunted me for weeks.

Today I awoke in a hurry to get out the door and go to work. I reached for the coffee to start it brewing, and realized I was out. I dressed quickly and headed for McDonald’s for a cup of java for my commute. On the way I realized I didn’t have any change, and would have to use my debit card to get my fix. Well, if I was going to run a card I didn’t want to do it for just one dollar, so I thought I would be forced to get a biscuit, and maybe a hashbrown, at least 500 calories worth of needless food.

Then I had a better thought. I bought three large coffees, with lots of cream, sugar and Splenda on the side. I mixed up my coffee and put the rest of the condiments in my pocket, then headed down Colfax with two extra steaming cups of coffee. It was a cold morning, and the streets were deserted. I was nearly to the Civic Center station before I ran across two men. One was a Native American, wearing only jeans and a T-shirt, with a light blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He was talking to another man who was only slightly better dressed. Nervously I approached them.

“Excuse me. Would you gentlemen be interested in a cup of coffee?” I asked. The words were barely out of my mouth when the taller man reached for the cups. The Native American was a little more shy, but smiled and thanked me as he took the other cup.

“Thank you.” He said simply.

“You’re welcome. God bless you.” I smiled and went on. Feeling happy with myself, but still unable to shake the haunting memory of the old man.


April 15, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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