I reached into the right pocket of my jeans, the pocket that I thought I had placed two wadded up bills in. I borrowed some cash from my husband for parking. It turned out that I didn’t need it. I looked down. I accidentally had pulled out the twenty dollar bill. I knew that it was a lot of money. A grueling hour of work. An hour exposed to hard stuff or even laughter. An hour of time spent away from my family.
The homeless man told me five different stories in two short minutes. He couldn’t get into the shelter. It was full. He needed to get to St. Louis. Somebody stole his bag. He needed a blanket. He was hungry.
I handed him the twenty dollar bill. Not because I believed his stories. Not because I thought he would go buy a decent amount of food with it. But because I stood there looking at him and I felt sorry for him. For his lies or for his truths. For what I could see and for all that I couldn’t. He asked me what my name was. I told him. I asked him his. He thanked me. I thanked him.
I regret not giving him one of my new non-business cards.
I really don’t like flinging myself into uncomfortable situations. With new faces, often the kind with a lot of make-up on. Perhaps trying to elbow in and impress people or be somebody that maybe they are. Or maybe they are not. I hate pretending to be somebody that I am not. I’m just no good at it. I’m better at saying inappropriate things at the least appropriate time.
So, as I entered the room by myself, I asked the bartender for a beer. Yep, just in the bottle. That way you don’t have to wash a glass on my accord. Next, I walked over and put some food on my plate. As I awkwardly held my drink in my large hands, I almost dropped my beer and my plate. An employee watching the appetizer table walked up and asked me if he could hold it, I said, “Yes. Thank you.” I proceeded to tell him about the jar of spaghetti sauce that I had dropped and broke in Target a couple of weeks ago. I thought I didn’t need a basket. Or a cart. See, I learned from my mistake. He and I began talking about how hard it is to keep milk in the house. I learned all about this strange non-powdered, unevaporated milk that has a long shelf life and “really tastes just like milk.”
I thought I should explore the place. I walked outside and looked at the Kansas City skyline. With my beer and my tiny sandwich. And my cookie.
I reassured myself that even if I gave the homeless man an hour of work in the form of a twenty dollar bill and let somebody help me while learning about this new milk that I could call my evening a success. Honestly, I had wanted to park my car downtown, put a few quarters in the parking meter and sit there while I finished reading my book. But I didn’t. I just couldn’t.
I walked inside. Running late. As I am always. I went to the event with nobody there that I truly knew. I purposely put myself in an uncomfortable position. Was it a successful night? Who knows. But I did it. I won a door prize, most likely for being so late that my name was on the top. Little did that door prize know that it positively reinforced my future tardiness.
I decided I just can’t give out non-business cards about my blog, unless they maybe have a fortune on them or something else helpful. Maybe a measurement converter like how many ounces are in a cup. That seems dumb. Maybe a useless fact like, “did you know that you can find out the sex of a guinea pig by pushing on its belly?” Beware, a tiny penis may pop out though. And no, I just heard. I haven’t tried it. I should probably research some other useless facts.
Speaking of business cards, one time I was at a concert and a woman complimented me on something, I think my really high heeled shoes. She then proceeded to hand me her business card and tell me about some skincare line or something that she was selling. Keep in mind, I didn’t know her. Apparently, upon meeting me, my face bothered her enough to want to change it. With some products. It was probably my freckles. Which I happen to purposely not cover up. Sadly, she abruptly had to leave after she jammed her foot in my door because Rick Springfield had taken off his shirt and she wanted to go try and touch his sweaty middle-aged body. Even though she had done it before at another concert and her husband had been mad about it. Really. This is a true story. This is actually a true story of how not to give someone your business card.
I don’t know that giving my non-business card to a homeless man would have been any better. He probably wouldn’t be able to access my blog. My card would have probably ended up littering the downtown sidewalk, but I’m sure, like me, he has had something burn somewhere before. Perhaps in his mind, in his heart or in his pants. Maybe the food or alcohol he went to purchase would burn his throat and help him remember and feel alive, like he mattered. Like he was important. I know it may have been more wise to have given him food or a blanket or something besides cash, but I didn’t have anything else except my jacket that would have been too small for him. And I really do like that jacket.
Later on, when I got home, I found the dollar bill in my other jean pocket. The left side, the one I didn’t reach into. Maybe the homeless man needed that twenty dollar bill more than me. Actually, my husband since he loaned it to me. Or maybe he just needed someone to look him in the eye and talk with him for a few minutes. Just like I did that night.