Posted: July 17, 2009 in Peace

So last Sunday, after my sermon (wherein I mentioned my summer job working with the poor), one of the gracious people at church handed me twenty bucks with the instruction, “If you run into somebody who could use it this week, give it to them.”

That, my friends, is easier said than done. First of all, we aren’t supposed to be handing out cash while we’re on the job at the DPSS offices. And second, it is quite a challenge to be a good steward! I surely wanted to use the money well.

Today, I decided where the money should go.

There is an older black man who regularly sits on the street corner across from our office. He looks the homeless part, what with his hooded sweatshirt on and his trash bags that he carries along for the day. I have heard that he actually has an apartment and receives SSI benefits, but the suspicion is that the money runs out quickly and he has to sit out on the street corner hoping for money to make it the rest of the month. He has never asked me for money, but one of my fellow clerks said that he has asked her for money a couple of times.

Well, today I wanted to give him twenty bucks. But as I walked toward his familiar spot, I tried to figure out the best way to make it happen. I came up with a plan, pulled up a piece of curb to sit by him, and this is how the conversation went:

Al: Hey, I’ve been walking by all summer, but I haven’t stopped to introduce myself. My name is Al. What is your name?

Man Who Sits On the Corner: (Mumbles something unintelligible without making eye contact.)

Al: Nice to meet you. And, hey, I was wondering if you could help me out. I never have money with me, but some guy gave me some money the other day and told me to pass it on to some one who could use it. I was wondering if you knew anyone who could use twenty bucks?

Man Who Sits On the Corner: (Erupts in laughter, then turns toward me, makes his first eye contact, and exclaims…) ME!

(Like, you aren’t going to believe this, but I – yes, I – am the one you are looking for my new friend! It’s ME who could use some money!)

Al: You?! Well, alright! That was easy! (Hands over the money.) Well, it was a pleasure to meet you. My name is Al again, and what did you say your name was?

Man Who Sits On the Corner: (Maintaining eye contact and a really big smile.) Fred.

Al: Well, Fred, it was nice to meet you. Have a good day.

Fred: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

Al: It was my pleasure.

And it was.

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