Friday, March 24, 2017

the blue eyed man

In the last few weeks, I have continued to share my leftovers with hungry folks around town. It has become a regular part of my morning routine to poke around the fridge for anything that might be a viable and deliverable meal or snack. One day this week, I warmed up some delicious turkey chili that had been forgotten in a far corner of my fridge. While it was in the microwave, I mentioned in an email to my family that I had concerns about the spiciness, which was the real reason that this delectable mini feast had languished in the fridge so long. Clara can’t handle the truth, man. I didn’t eat it either, but that’s because it had black beans and we all know* that I should NOT eat black beans.  Anyway. I thought about finding a little container to put some sour cream or yogurt in for cooling purposes, but then I got a hold of myself and remembered that I had to pack a lunch for myself and get my weird ass to work.

I do put thought into how these meals go together, though. In addition to being tasty and nutritious, I want them to be in the right kind of container, with utensils, and a napkin. I stop short of putting in a little note of encouragement like I used to do in my kids’ lunchboxes, but why?

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little obsessive about this. Maybe it’s partially about my kids getting older and needing me less and me really liking to take care of people. I don’t know, but I do know that the day I delivered my chili was profoundly moving to me. I did my usual lap around the transit station parking lot, and saw a guy that I’m pretty sure I had given something to before when he was sleeping, because I remember how blue his eyes were when they flew open. On this day he was sitting up on a low wall, thumbing through his wallet. When I walked over and asked if he was hungry, he stood up with a huge smile and those bright blue eyes and seemed so genuinely happy, and in my perception it seemed that he had been sitting there hungry and wondering how he’d get food just at the precise moment that I walked up to save the day.**

This morning I had a nice batch of rice, beans, corn, and chicken with some masala sauce. I was chagrined not to have a proper container to put it in, and had to settle for a zip lock bag. Unsatisfactory. I found a SeaWorld gift bag (thanks Beth!) and put the zip lock bag inside along with a rejected half bag of whole grain cheez its (spoiled jerks) and one remaining green pistachio muffin from St. Patrick’s Day. I also threw in a fork and a bottle of water that would have been really helpful with the spicy chili.

As I drove toward work with the intention of a quick detour to the transit center lot, I thought about the blue eyed man and wondered if he’d be in his usual spot. I let my mind wander to a story about having an arrangement where I brought him food on a regular basis, and thought I should leave the house earlier so I could talk with him for a few minutes rather than swooping by with my weird deliveries and then racing off to work without even knowing his name. I started to wonder about this man and his life, and how he came to be where he is today.

I arrived at the lot and did a lap, but the blue eyed man wasn’t in his spot. I made another turn looking for a good place to drop off the shamu bag, and saw two men talking on the sidewalk next to their belongings. I pulled over and grabbed the bag, asking out the window if they were hungry. One man turned to walk toward me and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw his blue eyes! He stumbled a bit on his way to meet me. When he took and thanked me for the bag, he flashed that big smile around the impossibly long line of snot that ran from his nose to…. I don’t know where, I kept my blue eyes locked on his.  We maintained that eye contact right up until the moment he fell over, clearly hammered, and stayed on the ground, still smiling.

I should have thrown a few aspirin in the bag.

Isn’t life weird?

*Seriously, how does anyone eat black beans and live to tell the tale? They are kryptonite to my GI tract

**foreshadowing of my humblebrag hero complex


Me, You, or Ellie said...

This is kind of the most fabulous thing I have ever read. And not just because of your humblebrag hero complex.

Okay, maybe a lot because of your humblebrag hero complex.

I love your friend, I love his eyeballs, I love his smile, I love his impossibly long line of . . . wait, I love his eyeballs.

He is so happy to have you as a casual Angel-from-Heaven. And maybe next time include a little sour cream with his chili? And maybe some shredded cheddar and chopped cilantro? And a nice crisp pale ale to accompany?

Kidding. What you do is incredible. Thank GOD your kids are such rotten, delicate-bellied ingrates. I thank them, and your friend thanks them.

Right down there from the pavement.



Noelle said...

Simply moving....great skill with storytelling...would love to hear you on the Moth! Thanks for sharing!

JS said...

What Ellie said, to the extent that it's relevant coming from a stranger. Humanity is such an appealing trait in a person.

Beth said...

Oh my, this great. I'm picturing you in Old Town; is that where you're talking about? I've not seen this particular human. But hey, I'm not handing out extremely well thought our meals to people either. Good on ya, J. :)

Have you seen that family around that area? An African American family with both parents and three kids? I've seen them twice now, and man, it gets to me.

And yeah, life is a whole lotta weird sometimes. Love you.