The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

He Has

I had seen the homeless man sitting next to the gas station sign while waiting on the red light to turn green. I read his sign quickly that turned my head back towards the road, not even giving the man a second thought or glance. A woman in an SUV that was waiting for the same light looked over at the man asking for some help then she looked over at me. She rolled her eyes and then began to shake her head and laughing. I looked back over at the man. The light was about turn green and I had to make a decision. The more I thought about that woman, the more I became enraged. When the light turned green, I screeched the tires and pulled back into the gas station parking lot. I was mad at the woman, that is for sure. But I was more mad at myself. That I was going to do nothing. I was just going to go on my way.

* * *

He had light red hair and a red mustache. His teeth had met a fist or two before, probably in a few bars and maybe even in a couple of jails. His teeth were crooked and when he smiled it reminded me of stalactites in a cave. I walked over towards him. He stood up and put down his hand made sign. I handed him a bag with a couple of bottles of water and some protein bars that I had just picked up at Wal-Mart. He took the bag and opened it up just enough to peek in and see what all was in it.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out the money that I won at a poker game last night. I put it in his hand. He curled his hand around the two bills and squeezed them as though he was trying to make them into a diamond.

"Be careful," I said not really knowing why I chose those exact words.

"God bless you," he said.

"He has," I replied.

The silence was awkward, or at least it was awkward for me. So I turned around and walked back towards my truck. I stopped a few feet from the door. I turned back around and walked back over to the man. I held my hand out.

"I apologize, my name is Lafe Benson," I said.

He extended his hand back and replied, "Peter."

"Nice to meet you Peter."

Again he said, "God bless you."

"God bless you, too."

I walked back to my truck and went back to my journey up towards Bentonville. I had a job to do, and this little excursion to Wal-Mart and the chance meeting with Peter was just a quick detour.

While on the road, I began to think about Peter and what I had done for him. I began to worry that maybe the protein bars might make him sick, but then again he probably needs the protein pretty bad. I gave him a little bit of food, a little bit of water, a little bit of cash, and hopefully a little bit of pride. Not many people stop for beggers on the side of the road in front of a gas station, much less shake a homeless person's hand. But I did. And I am glad I did, but when I began to think about it, the more ashamed I became.

I claim to try to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing. But was the right thing to just give the guy a couple of dollars and be on my way? Maybe the right thing to do was to stay there with him, trying to listen to him for a little bit and get him some more help? 20 dollars might help him out in the short term, but was that just a short term solution for me as well. Now I could just forget about this guy after just helping him out a little bit. I could have done more. I should have done more.

On my way back down the interstate, I stopped back by the gas station. I wanted to do more. But Peter wasn't there. Maybe the cops came and picked him up. Maybe another kind soul, a soul a lot more charitable than me, came by and took him to a shelter or a home. I don't know. But if you remember, say a quick prayer for Peter tonight, and all the other people out there in the same sort of situations.

Say a quick prayer for us all too. It isn't that we need to put our money where our mouth is. That's easy. The part we need to work on is putting out hearts where God's heart is.


Blogger Shelli said...

Thank you for reminding us how to serve.

12:39 PM  
Blogger RockinMominAr said...

Hey Lafe - I had a similar experience with an AIDS victim in San Francisco. I gave him money and then walked away. I got very upset with myself later because I didn't kneel down and look him in the eye and shake his hand and tell him I was sorry for his situation and pray with him. I definitely will do that next time the scenario presents itself.

1:31 PM  

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