Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Shame on Me

It is a common occurrence when venturing to downtown Denver to be repeatedly asked for money by panhandlers. When I lived downtown the first person who asked me usually ended up with the little change I had in my pocket. I used to write profiles of homeless people who were vendors for the Denver Voice newspaper, so I have come to not judge anyone, since many of their circumstances were tragic and unavoidable. There are of course always a few youngsters who are clearly on the streets because they can’t be bothered to get a job, or are living “free” like America promised them.

This day was no different. I was headed to Longmont to spend the day with Jess and Petra, and boarded the free mall shuttle to take me to Union Station, where I would catch the L bus. The shuttle has a row of seats that run along the back, allowing riders to look toward the front of the shuttle. I took a seat near the back, but along the side, and made myself comfortable. Shortly into the ride, an older man who was sitting in the back seat, looked directly at me and I prepared myself for my defensive response.

“Do you have anything to eat?” He asked quietly.

“I’m sorry, I don’t,” I responded automatically. He gave the tiniest nod and looked away.

The problem was I DID have something to eat. I had a whole lunch bag full of homemade pizza with chicken and artichoke toppings. I had an entire baggy full of fresh grapes, and I had a couple of cookies and a yogurt. I had plenty of food, and it certainly wasn’t the only food I would have access to that day.

I felt horrible. I watched as he lowered his head to his chest and appeared to fall asleep. He hadn’t asked me for cash. He had only asked me for the most basic of human needs–food. I tried to remember the last time I was hungry. It was a few weeks ago, and I was certain I would faint doing the most mundane tasks around the house if I went another moment without food. I wondered if sleeping abated the pains of an empty stomach, as I watched him and fought back tears. His clothes were mostly clean, as well as his gray hair and face. He didn’t appear to be homeless, perhaps he was just hungry.

Even after these thoughts, I am ashamed to admit that I still debated at all whether or not to give him some food. I thought about what I was willing to part with. The pizza was not that great, but was homemade and looked impressive. The grapes are natural fruit, so that seemed like the best idea. The yogurt and cookies I intended to share with Petra so I ruled them out.

I continued to watch him until we were two stops away from Union Station. Sad and ashamed, I moved into the seat next to him, and pulled the pizza out of my lunch bag. I touched his hand lightly and he lifted his head, opened his eyes and looked at me. They were the watery, cloudy eyes of an old man, like those of my grandfather. I fought back tears and tried not to think about what circumstances had brought this man to the point of asking for food from strangers.

“I have some homemade pizza,” I handed him the bag. “I’m not the best cook, but it’s fresh.”

He took the bag eagerly, and carefully opened the ziploc.

“Thank you, it looks really good.” He took a bite and looked at me with those watery eyes, and praised me as if I had just served him some filet mignon. I was a fine cook, he said, in between bites, which he truly savored–I like to think it was really delicious, and not just his extreme hunger that fueled his compliments.

We chatted as he ate a piece of pizza, then it was time to get off the shuttle. He thanked me again and disappeared into the crowd.

 

 

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April 21, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Wow Tabatha that was a beautifully written and certainly moving story. So nice to read some of your work! What an awesome reminder of being the light and tuned into opportunities to serve in the present moment. I look forward to reading more of your work!

    Comment by Maureen Mountcastle | April 22, 2016 | Reply

    • Thanks for your kind words Maureen. Life constantly reminds me that it’s not all about me.:)

      Comment by tabdeans | April 26, 2016 | Reply


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