Dec 3, 2017

Circle-K Reality Check

I’m in El Paso on business, so I’ve been checking out all of the different places to eat that we don’t have back home. The back seat of my rental had a Chicago Pizza from Peter Piper’s and a bag of food and sauces from Taco Cabana. On the way back to the hotel that I’m calling home for four weeks, I spotted a Circle-K convenience store. We don’t have those back home either, and I was hoping to take a cheesy selfie to post with references to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

As I pulled in, I saw a homeless old man with a long grey beard. He had kind eyes, and was hunkered down between a garbage can in front of the store and a cart of things that he owned.

I suddenly felt like the world’s biggest asshole.

Here I am, a guy with a back seat filled with more food than I could eat and a warm bed waiting for me a few miles away even though I don’t even live here. Who the hell am I to have all of this while this man tries to keep warm in front of a convenience store?

I went in the store even though I really didn’t need anything. I managed to find our Spicy Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, so I bought a bunch of them for my class, and I did a quick inventory of my wallet to see what I could offer this man.

When I came out, he looked a bit frightened at first, but I gave him some money. I had no idea what to say, so I asked if he was ok. What a stupid question to ask. But his eyes met mine and he thanked me and wished me a happy holiday in a voice that made tears come to my eyes.

Yeah, sure… I’ll have a happy holiday, but what about this man? Why the fuck can’t we muster up enough compassion for each other to treat people with kindness and to make sure that everyone has a safe place to sleep and enough food to eat. Why the fuck can’t we do that?

I never got my selfie. I got a much better look at myself than any photo could provide, and I felt ashamed that I’m not a better man who could figure out a way to truly help people.