Tonight as I walked home from Grinchmas it was nice and chilly, I was listening to Christmas music on my iPod, and I was just generally feeling in the holiday spirit. As I walked I lamented that with Grinchmas, I didn’t have time to do something charitable this year for the holidays. Something where I could donate my time, like a soup kitchen or giving out presents to sick kids. Things I have done in the past, but not for a while. I really wished that I could do something like that because this year, more than I have in a long time, I feel very fortunate, and I wanted to give back.
As I neared CVS, where I was headed, an older black homeless guy came up to me and asked if I could spare any change on Christmas. I stopped in my tracks. I said, “Listen, man, I’m going in here to CVS. You come in here with me, and I’ll get you whatever you want.” He looked at me askance, as I am sure he doesn’t get this kind of offer often. I said, “I’m serious. Come on in with me.”
Let me stop you right here just to let you know that this homeless man does not turn out to be Jesus at the end of this story.
We went in and he went over to the little prepared foods section and grabbed a sandwich, then a bag of chips. Then he went up to the candy counter and grabbed a candy bar. Almost like a little kid he came up to me and said, “Can I get this too?” I said, “Get whatever you want, dude.” He grabbed two candy bars. Then he went to the liquor section–yes, in California there is a liquor section in CVS. He grabbed a small bottle of cheapo vodka, looked at me sheepishly and asked, “Can I get this too?” I said, “If you want it, get it.” Then I pointed to another bottle that was a little more expensive, but not much, and asked, “You want one of these?” He said, “No, I like this kind.”
I got my things and went up to the counter. He looked ready to run at any second, as if I had planned to lure him to the counter and then say, “I don’t know what this man is talking about. I’m not purchasing this stuff!” I bought the things and ended up spending a little over sixteen bucks on the guy.
We got outside, and he held his bag. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said, “That’s one of the nicest things anybody every did for me.”
I said, “Nah, Merry Christmas, man.”
“Merry Christmas, my brother,” he said. “Hey what’s you’re name?”
I said, “George Lichtenberg.”
He said, “Merry Christmas, George,” and handed me one of the candy bars.
I cras melior est-ed on my giving this year, but better late than never.