when they ask…what do you do?

By: ewhite422

Apr 13 2010

Category: Uncategorized

3 Comments


Okay, the economy has been suffering!  We’ve seen our 401ks at levels they haven’t been since our 30s.  We’ve tried to launch our grown kids…and they keep coming back.  Parents are growing older, and we’re faced with decisions about their care.  It all costs money.

And then you pull up to a traffic light, and there’s the unshaven person with a sign, asking for help.  Many times that person is homeless.

What do you do?

I try to remember to carry water and snacks with me, so that I can, at least, give them something.  But often I forget.  (I forget a good many things these days)

One man about my age (gracefully middle-aged) approached me a while back as I came out of a Houston courthouse.  “Can you help me?” he asked.

I looked him in the eye, and I said, “I am SO sorry, I do not have any cash.  All I have is credit cards, and they probably won’t do you any good.”

He saw me see him.  And he saw me…white lady with so many obligations that she doesn’t even have cash.

“That’s okay,” he said, and I felt like I was the beggar who had just received a pardon.

Look, I know that there are people out there who scam people like me.  But there are some who are genuinely needy, and I can’t really tell the difference at first glance or at a stop light.  So, I try and give what I can, and I leave the rest up to that BEING that I have been aware of, who watches me day and night.

Sometimes the homeless are nowhere to be found when you need them.  I know that sounds horrible, but here’s what happened.

My husband had open heart surgery a couple of years ago.  When he recovered enough to go and see his grandson in Austin, I asked him what he would really like to do.

“I’d like to have a picnic on the capitol grounds,” he replied.

“What would you like to eat?”  I asked.

“I’d like fried chicken!”  he said.  His heart surgery had nothing to do with blockage, so he was okay in suggesting his preference for a Sunday afternoon meal.

“Okay, I’ll invite the “kids,”  I said, meaning our grown kids who have children of their own.

They showed up and we spread out a blanket on the capitol lawn.  Brooks was happy in his element.  He lay down in the grass beside the blanket and let grandchildren play around him…this time, NOT jumping on grandpa’s belly.

Our grown children ate politely.  Big helpings of cole slaw and beans.  Almost no chicken.

They’re all healthfood people…I won’t say nuts.

So, we were left with a BIG bucket of fried chicken and sides.  “What are we going to do with it?”  my husband asked.

“We’re going to find homeless people!”  I said, like I knew that I would be successful.

We drove around and around Austin.  What?  No homeless people?  Were they on vacation?

Finally, we gave up and headed for the highway to return to The Woodlands.  Just as we appoached the turn for 290, a homeless person approached our car.  “Boy, are we glad to see you!”  I said.  “We have a whole Kentucky Fried Chicken feast, and our kids wouldn’t eat it!.  Can you take it?”

He gave a long whistle to the rest of his group, stationed on various intersections, and they all came running.

I was just happy they liked the food we offered, since we had been turned down by our own family.

“Thank you!” he said, as I handed over the Colonel’s original recipe.

It’s complicated.  Wasn’t that a successful movie?  Well, it is complicated when confronting life’s issues…homelessness…poverty…substance abuse, etc.

How can we respond?  I say, we give to those who ask you and leave the results to the ONE who sees all.

But that’s me.

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3 comments on “when they ask…what do you do?”

  1. You never cease to amaze. Keep it up, Elaine.

  2. Ha! I remember that day clearly. All the homeless were likely inside, resting, at the library. The night is when they are sleepless, uncomfortable and guarded. It breaks my heart everyday. The worst is when they have babies and dogs, beings that need shelter and consistency. If only our country were open minded enough to stop needless suffering.


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