The other day I decided to stop at Old Town to get a bite to eat. I ordered some enchiladas from an authentic-looking Mexican cafe. It was such a beautiful day that I decided to eat outside. I found a beautiful grassy area to eat my enchiladas.
For a few moments of pleasure pervaded by the taste of corn tortillas, cheese, and Mexican spices all combining together in my mouth, I didn’t pay much attention to the world around me… until I felt something or someone swiftly move towards me. I turned around immediately to see who or what was approaching. His clothes were blue and ragged. His curly hair, full of dirt. He wasn’t old, but his weary expression and taut features said his life experiences hadn’t been easy. He walked quickly towards me. Eyes filled with shadowy intent. I looked straight into them. My hands clutched my purse. His pace slowed down a notch. His gaze lost focus and drifted away as he walked past me.
I sat there for a moment, confounded. Was I almost robbed? Was he about to snatch my purse when I wasn’t looking? I looked around to see where he was. He had found a spot in the grassy area not too far from me. I ate in silence. Every once in a while, I peeked over to see what he was doing. Once, I saw him staring at me. Or maybe he was staring at the enchiladas all covered in cheese, surrounded by rice and beans. Maybe he was hungry. Then the thought occurred to me, “If I was in his position, would I steal my purse so I could get a bite to eat?” If I was hungry enough and out on the streets, and had no idea if and when my next meal would come… maybe. I looked over at the guy again. He was now laying down in the grass, his hands folded over his belly. Well, what if I gave him some of my food? If I were in his position, wouldn’t I want someone to hand me a few dollars, or something to eat? Since this bad economic recession, anyone could be in his position.
I closed up my styrofoam container and walked over to the man. He appeared to be sleeping, but when I got to about two feet in front of him, he jerked his head over to see who was approaching him. He sat up, and looked at me, the severity of his gaze returned, his expression solemn.
“Would you like the rest of my food?” I offered, holding out the styrofoam container for him to take.
“Yes, thank you,” he said graciously, as though a good friend of his had brought him a gift he really wanted.
He opened the container voraciously. His weary expression was replaced by pure joy and anticipation, like a young boy waking up on Christmas morning, about to find out what Santa had left him the night before. It was a half eaten enchilada, and some rice and beans! The perfect gift for a man who… well, who knows when he had his last meal! He smiled at me warmly as I left him to his feast.
Half an hour later, I saw him again. I realized that unlike the first time I ran into him, I didn’t feel the desire to clutch my purse. I let it hang loosely from my shoulder. He waved and smiled at me as if we were old friends. I returned the gesture, then walked away with a warm feeling in my heart.