Monday, December 8, 2014

Who saved who?

Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that say "who rescued who?"  It's a reference to an adopted pet and what it brings to the relationship with it's human benefactor. It implies that you would get more from the exchange than even the adopted pet would.

It has happened to me many times with pets I adopted. But this one time it happened to me with another human being. Not with an adoption, but merely with the interaction.

The third Friday of every month, here in the city of Ventura, we have a food truck extravaganza. Twelve to fifteen truck come to the parking lot of the local mall and serve food  to all the available hungry patrons that day. I was on my way to the adjacent grocery store and decided to stop by and get myself some food from the oyster truck.
As I got my food, I looked for a place I could use to sit down and enjoy my meal. Most of the tables had more than one person and it was obvious they were busy. I found one table with only one person and I asked him if he minded some company. He smiled warmly and said "okay"
I soon realized he was a homeless person. He had a bicycle next to him and along with it, most if not all of his life possessions.
We begun to talk, and I asked him if he liked oysters. He said yes and I gave him a couple of oysters from my half dozen.
He thank me. Then he asked if I had a cell phone (who doesn't?)
He asked to borrow it. Until then, I had never realized how personal of an item they had become.  I hesitated with my reply and I'm sure he noticed.

He made a phone call to his son. I could tell it was a voice message he was leaving. He finished with " I love you and I miss you, I wish I could call more often, take care"
He handed me the phone back and I headed for the grocery store nearby.
I needed ice cream and milk, some cheeses and a few other perishables. Also bread, some nuts and the obligatory bottle of wine for Friday night.

In the middle of the shopping, I got a phone call. It was the son calling his father back. I told him what had happened and he said it was too bad he had missed him. He asked me to tell him he loved him if I ever saw him again.  I said "okay, I will"

I don't recall feeling as empty as I did that time. I said I would tell him next time I saw him, but I also knew I was probably never to see that homeless person again.

The heck with the groceries!   I paid at the cashier and headed back to the truck extravaganza. I didn't know if I could find him again but it was worth the try.
Still sitting in the same place, I found him. I called his son back (dial the last number) and he came on the line. Then I handed the phone back to the homeless man.
I don't know for how long they talked and I made every attempt not to look anxious. I would wait until he was done.
Once done, he handed me the phone back and thanked me.
I don't know who helped who the most. All I know is that I felt really good when I left. But before I did, I pulled the first bill out of my wallet and handed it to him. He hadn't asked for it but it felt like the right thing to do.

The few times I've told the story, I have to catch myself from choking with emotion.
All in all, it was a great day!