As we were loading up the cars, after serving the homeless, I noticed one of my old clients walking toward me. Some of you may remember him (Some People Can’t Be Fixed) from a post I wrote in February. I said hi to him and called him by name. He looked at me….you know that look when you see someone that is not in the place you expect to see them?
Example: You see Marge everyday at the gym. The two of you chat pleasantries about your grandchildren. Then one day you see Marge at the local Starbuck’s, she is not wearing gym clothes and you have absolutely no idea why she is speaking to you and acting as though she knows you. You continue with the conversation because obviously she knows you and you don’t want to be rude. Several sentences in she mentions the gym….oh yeah it’s Marge! Well, that’s the look he gave me.
After we passed each other I turned to see which direction he headed and realized he had stopped and turned back to look at me. Now he looked angry. As you may recall we did not part on the best of terms. My immediate thought was, load up the teenagers and drive away. Fortunately the kids were already in the car waiting for me.
Another incident happened earlier in the day that involved a homeless man threatening another homeless man right in the middle of our set up of volunteers. Though I never felt the kids were in danger I knew several of them were shaken by the incident. When we returned to the church the kid’s parents were there to pick them up…no time to debrief.
Both incidents have been on my mind quite a bit today. Especially running into my former client. I thought about what would have happened if he walked through earlier. He has been known to call me and my co-workers some pretty colorful names. One of the most colorful was when he yelled across our parking lot that I was a “C*ck s*cking lesbian whore. If you feel the first word and the third word don’t fit together than you filled in the blank correctly on the first word. Anyway, I wondered if he would have said anything, spewed hate in my direction or simply accepted the food we were there to share.
I don’t like sharing the scary or gritty parts of serving those living on the streets. I think a lot of people only see the negative when they think about the homeless so I don’t want to add fuel to their fire. But I have also found it is important to share the things weighing on my mind. Sometimes there is a nugget tucked away in my rambling sentences that speaks to someone. Sometimes I find my own nugget within my own ramblings. Sometimes this is how I figure out where the gratitude is.
So this Sunday when I see the kids again I plan to talk about both of these issues (i won’t mention the names I’ve been called…it is a church group!). I’m still not totally sure what my approach will be but I do know there are important lessons tucked between the lines.
I feel strongly that real life lessons are important and I believe seeing that good can still come from bad is truly real life. I am grateful I will have the opportunity to talk through the many lessons the kids and I experienced together.