Posted By Caulimovirus on April 3, 2005
“Had I Fallen Asleep, This Post Never Would Have Existed”
.: Thanks to daylight savings time, I couldn’t sleep tonight. It was 11:55 when it should’ve been 10:55. I hadn’t eaten anything save for an early lunch and a box of Milk Duds, so I decided to get out of bed and go to the gas station for a quick bite.
.: On my way there, I saw a short black woman mumbling something about “they”. It wasn’t until she reached a few steps closer that I realized she was talking to me. “They” were the other Baylor students who had been rude to her. She was a homeless woman. “Talk to me,” she said when she saw that I acknowledged her existence. “Just sit down and talk to me.”
.: What she meant to say was, “just sit there and don’t do anything but listen to me talk,” because that’s what she did. I didn’t pay attention to what she said; I didn’t have to. She wanted someone to talk to. Whether she wanted to talk to me because she needed human interaction or because she felt she needed to tell her story before she asked for my money is irrelevant. I sat there and pretended to listen to whatever it was she had to say, picking out key words like “they” “baylor students” “seventeen” and “dollars”.
.: She wanted seventeen dollars; I had twelve. I gave all that I had on me to her, and she told me about a program called Church Under The Bridge, a charity that preaches to homeless people after giving them food. She wanted more, so she asked if I could buy her a loaf of bread and some sausages. I figured, what the heck, I was going to blow my money on stuff I didn’t need (milk duds, milk, beef jerky), why not channel these wasted calories to someone who could use them?
.: So she lead me across the highway to the Diamond Shamrock (Exxon and Shell aren’t good enough, apparently). She picked out a can of tomatoe soup, two cans of vienna sausages, a small box of oreos (I reached for the small snack-sized, she asked if she could have the larger size instead. What’s seventy more cents?), and a pack of matches. She then asked if she could have a soda. I told her a bottle of milk would be better for her, as it actually has substance, but she insisted on the Dr. Pepper.
.: The cashier gave me a sort of look that said, “looks like she found another student who was too kind to say no.” In all, I spent $8.52 on this lady. Eight dollars and fifty two cents–that amount of money made her night. That’s two small combo meals. That’s ass-wiping money. And for that she treated me like a saint. I was her new best friend for the next two minutes.
.: After I paid for her items, I told her it was time for me to get my stuff. She gave me a hug and left. I decided I had too many milk duds already in one night and opted only for the milk and beef jerky. While the cashier rang up my bill, he said, “she comes here every night.” Just then she came back into the store and said, “he forgot my candles.” The cashier went back and picked up a pack of candles. She noticed my bag of beef jerky. “Oh those look so good I wish I still had my teeth.” He scanned her candles and gave them to her, and she left before I paid for them. “She has a fetish for candles,” he explained to me. The man in line behind me made a obscenely unfunny comment about hot wax dripping on her skin. The cashier laughed, but it was not a laugh of encouragement. It was more discomfort than anything.
.: Once outside I bumped into her again. She was waiting, because she wanted to give me a hug. She did and I said, “Good night.” As I walked back to the dorms, I saw a homeless man pulling a shopping cart on the same side of road as me. I dashed across the street to the other side before we could make eye contact. When I reached the entrance of the dorm, I looked back briefly and saw him reaching into a trashcan, presumably for something useful.
.: Did I do the right thing tonight? Sure, I gave the lady $12 and about $8 worth of junk food, but I was more concerned about myself than I was her. She asked me to hold her hands. I did, but I couldn’t stop thinking, “she’s a psycho killer and wants me dead.” Why did I think that? I reached for the small package of oreos install of the large one. Did I really need to save seventy cents? Homeless people are easy to dismiss. They’re mentally ill. They’re tricksters. They’d rather have junk food than real food. But why do we ignore them? Why do we cross the street so we don’t have to acknowledge them? However, not once did I think, “she’s probably responsible for her current situation.” Why? Because I don’t know her. There’s really no way for me to know. She could be insane–her voice did have a bit of a flat affect in it–but so what? As far as I’m concerned, animals and humans (to be redundant) exist to perpetuate the states of energy by consuming and transforming other lifeforms into usable fuel–why shouldn’t she?