Love Your Neighbor

Journal Entry October 14, 2012

So I was sitting in a cafe tonight ...a few tables over was an old man with a scruffy beard, looking unkempt and despondent. I figured him for a drifter. He commented about the pouring rain outside and how it prevented him from being able to walk anywhere... I smiled & nodded, semi brushed him off, avoiding conversation...then I thought to myself *SHAME ON ME, I should acknowledge him the same way I would anyone else*. I glanced back in his direction and we made eye contact...

KC: Where are you from? Do you live near here?
Drifter: It's not where I'm from that matters, it's where I need to go.
KC: Oh ya, where's that?
Drifter: Over by the university.
KC: Wow, that's about a half hour walk from here.
Drifter: With my old bones it's more like an hour for me. I've been here all day waiting for the rain to stop.
KC: It's coming down pretty hard out there...would you like a ride?
Drifter: yes please.
KC: Okay, let me pack up my things and I will go get my car. Wait for me by the front door.
Drifter: Thank you.
*in the car*
KC: Where exactly do you need to go?
Drifter: The Rendezvous Cafe...it's open until 3AM. I stay there every night until they close. I'm homeless, but I try to stay off the street. I don't want to be a nuisance to anyone.
KC: Do you have a place to sleep?
Drifter: Yes, a kind Asian man lets me sleep in his basement, but I stay out of his house as much as possible. I walk around the city most of the day, but I can't do that, when it's raining like this...I stayed in that cafe all day. Sometimes I work, but it's only part time. I work for an elderly lady. take care of her yard. She pays me a hundred dollars a week and I buy food with that.
KC: What work experience have you done before?
Drifter: Mostly military and restaurants.
KC: When were you in the military?
Drifter: From 1970-1974, then I joined another branch from 1976-1980.
KC: Wow, so you were a career soldier for a while...were you ever in combat?
Drifter: Yes, I was in Viet Nam, but I don't like to talk about what I saw over there...because... what's the point? People don't realize how difficult it is for soldiers to come back to a normal life. We aren't the same. It's not what you see in Hollywood.
KC: I'm sure it was horrible in Viet Nam. I'm sorry you had to experience that. How long have you been in Ann Arbor? My name is Kasey by the way...
Drifter: I'm Mack. I moved to Ann Arbor 2 years ago. Before that I lived in the Upper Peninsula. I stayed in the woods, but things got reeeeal bleak, so I decided to move here.
KC: Did you have a tent?
Mack: Sometimes. And I had work there, but when work was slow, it got real tough. You can let me out at that corner.
KC: No, it's still raining pretty hard, I will drop you off at the front of the cafe.....here it is...alright you have a good night, brother.
Mack: Thanks for the ride. Good night.

*Driving away... it weighed on my heart to stop at Walgreen's to pick up some things for Mack, then I returned to where I dropped him off...the section of the cafe open until 3AM was really a smoking lounge...upstairs...I pushed my way through the crowded room and found Mack sitting there at a table by himself with his head in his hands...I tapped his shoulder...*

KC: Hi Mack, I bought you an umbrella. Here in this bag is a pair of gloves too...and I got you some medicine...I want you to take it for that cough.
Mack: Thank you so much.
KC: Shake my hand...I have something for you, but I don't want anyone else to see...it's 50 bucks...and a card with my phone number...if you are ever in trouble, or if you ever need help...you call me okay? Have a good night now : )
Mack: God bless you! Thank you!

-- I journaled this event as a reminder that I should be kind and generous more often. It's a natural tendency to focus on our own needs, becoming unaware of what's going on around us. Life seems to be more fulfilling though, when we reach out to people. I know helping Mack was right...and I wish I could do more. While I wouldn't let just any stranger into my car, Mack had a good vibe. I trusted God and the universe that I would be protected while doing the right thing. I hope my heart continually makes adjustments in the direction of humility...that I will never be too self-absorbed to help someone, I could easily have a less-fortunate life, I have been blessed and I should share.

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