#keepcalmWRITEon Day 8
I was driving home from work. Now, mind you, my work is not like regular work. It’s shift work, at a PRTF (that’s short for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility). My shift ends at , and tonight, I was driving away at —. I’d just spent 11 hours managing 40 emotionally and behaviorally challenged kids and teenagers, and all the staff that go with them. Luckily, I didn’t get cussed out or punched or scratched today. But, still, I was tired. My co-supervisor and I had just finished hashing out staffing for tomorrow, and frankly, it looked a little grim.
I didn’t get to eat dinner at work today, partially because Breakfast/Lunch-Hybrid Meal was not until and I wasn’t hungry yet, and partially because I was so busy attending to the different needs that arise at the PRTF.
So, of course, I decided that I should pull through the drive-through at Pancho’s (BEST FOOD EVER), on my way home (breaking my rule of not eating restaurant food late at night...I've been really good about that lately, but I felt like I could give myself permission to go!).
So, feeling like I had rationalized well with myself, off to Pancho’s I drove.
It’s worth mentioning that today was the second REALLY COLD day of the year. The high temperature this afternoon reached 25 degrees, and driving through town, I noticed the glittering, sparkling frost atop the roofs of several buildings. I was enjoying the drive; it gave me a few extra minutes to wind down and get my brain to chill out after the busy evening at work.
Pulling into Pancho’s, I noticed the line of cars wrapped all the way around the drive-thru and around the building. “Wow!” I thought, “It’s poppin’ tonight! Everyone must be hungry tonight.”
I knew I would wait in line for several minutes before anyone took my order, and even a few more minutes while I paid at the window and my food was being prepared. I ordered two things --a bacon breakfast burrito and a chicken quesadilla – thinking that I could save one for tomorrow’s Breakfast-Lunch Hybrid Meal. While I waited, I absentmindedly checked my phone, wrote in my calendar, and thought about what I would do when I got home…until I saw him.
He had blonde-ish, brown-ish hair, that looked a little long…and he wore all black, and glasses on his face. He seemed young, in his 20’s, and he carried a backpack, and seemed to be doing some sort of dance between walking in and out of the building. He began to cross the street in front of me towards the parking lot; I couldn’t tell what he was doing, so I let the car in front of me pull away and I waited – unsure of what this guy was doing or where he was going. He turned back around and approached the door to the building again, and this time, made eye contact with me, and –could that be?—yes, he waved at me.
I was so tired from work and distracted by my phone and planners, I couldn’t decide if this was actually happening or not. But yes; he waved at me and began motioning and gesturing…asking for food, drink, something, ANYTHING. I began to shake my head at him, in disbelief. I hadn’t pulled all the way up to the window yet and had nobody to discuss the matter with but myself.
As I furrowed my brow at him, I pulled up to the window and paid for my food, handing my debit card securely to the cashier, then making eye contact with the stranger while I tucked my debit card out of sight. When my food was handed to me, I knew what I would do. I reached into my takeout bag, pulled out my burrito, and put it in my left hand— then I rolled down my window.
I pulled my car forward and handed the burrito to the stranger. He said, “I love you, thank you” and I told him, “It’s a bacon breakfast burrito, it’s delicious”.
He said, “You’re awesome”.
And I drove away.
I watched him in my rearview mirror, saw him beginning to unwrap the burrito.
That was it.
An encounter not more than 2 minutes in length.
An exchange between two human beings: one with the power to improve the others’ day; the other, would never be able to repay her.
It just made me think.
How many people in front of me, in that long line of cars on this cold December night, avoided eye contact with this stranger?
How many of them drove right on past him, with overpriced burritos in their cars, heading to their cozy, warm homes…without even giving him a second thought? If I hadn't driven through tonight, would he have eaten?
How long had he stood there, smelling the food from outside the restaurant, knowing there wasn’t a seat for him at the table inside, because he had nothing in his pockets?
I have never truly gone without.
I have never known true hunger or need. Even in my worst times, I’ve always had a roof over my head. I have never had to beg.
Who am I, that I get to buy a giant burrito and a stuffed quesadilla, at , without thinking anything of it? Who am I, that I deserve to go to bed in a warm bed tonight with a full stomach?
I just don’t get it.
I could have decided that I was too tired to care, that my day had been too long, and that I needed to take care of myself now and put myself first and keep myself safe and look out for myself and do what I needed to do for me, because it’s late it’s the middle of the night and this isn’t rational and this is crazy and why didn’t you go straight home and I put up with too much crap at work and I don’t deserve that and what about me and that this guy could hurt me and who knows what he wants and don’t give him money he’ll use it for drugs and you shouldn’t enable because they all need to work and Gilda you work hard for your money you need to guard it more carefully and you can’t save them all Gilda just keep driving just give him an apologetic look on your way and say a prayer for him that God would bless him tonight…
If all I have to do to make a difference in the life of my neighbor, is to buy a burrito for someone who hasn’t eaten that day, when I would buy two for myself anyway…why hesitate?
Why not help create a world:
“…where the hungry feast
because the fed
Where I learn to go without so others no longer have to plead
Where there is enough for everyone’s need
But not everyone’s greed…”
I’ll survive without that burrito. To me, it was extra, something I didn’t really need. To him, it was divine provision.
I hope I gave him hope tonight.
We can all do so much if we all just look out for one another.
Discipline me, Lord, in the weakening power of Your simplicity. I am so honored to be the blessing.