November 12, 2011

Coffee Fixes Everything

I got a late start this morning thanks to an impromptu coffee date with an elderly vet. He was standing at the intersection with the generic cardboard sign
Veteran Fallen On Hard Times
Anything Helps
God Bless
Old brown jacket, wool hat, jeans, well worn work boots, very few teeth. He didn’t make eye contact with the drivers as they sat next to him in their heated vehicles. I only had a buck on me so I told him I was going to get myself a coffee and he looked like he could use one. His face lit right up. “That would be wonderful, dear” and off I went to get a large Dunkin Donuts with cream and sugar. 

When I got back we stood at the intersection and chatted for a bit about the weather and the music we could hear coming from nearby cars. Nothing profound, just the idle small talk you might have with an acquaintance you run into at the grocery store. I didn’t stay long. I am very aware whenever I stop to chat with one of the local solicitors that my presents allows passers by to ignore their better intentions and drive past without offering assistance. 

I was reading an article a few weeks back by a journalist lamenting the fact that we, as Americans, don't properly care for our elderly. You got a mouse in your pocket? Who's we? I’d bet that 2/3 of the people who drove past us this morning would agree, but none of them stopped to lend a few bucks. If the system isn't working maybe we shouldn't bother trying to change it. Maybe we should just make a new system all together.

You may remember that over the summer I was having Sunday tea with one of the tent dwellers in town, but I haven't seen her in months. The reality is that she didn't owe me an explanation and probably just moved onto the warmer climates as the temps dropped.

I'm reading a great book right now that I'll tell you all about tomorrow. Stay warm!!


  1. Ash,

    I'll try to explain a little from my perspective since I work in a very large city. Many of us start out helping when we see a person holding those signs. I had a man walk up to me many years ago, ask for help and when I helped him he walked straight into 7 Eleven and bought whiskey and a 40oz beer.

    People get jaded when they help somebody only to see them buy booze. You're not helping them when they just buy booze.

    So now, I offer to buy them coffee or food directly if they want and you know what, every single one of them decline and say just give me the money. Many become very rude and demand you give them more if they feel you have it.

    My wife and I saw a man on the side of the road holding up a sign and we stopped somewhere, bought food and something to drink and gave him money, it was in farm country so we believed his sign and it turns out we helped a very nice man very down on his luck.

    This is the exception, not the norm out here so if you see people drive by there might be a good reason. Some are just outright selfish in not helping, others have tried and got burned.

    Some of those people holding signs make $80,000 a year pan handling which makes the news every year here in Chicago so another reason some people don't help.

    I try not to stay jaded so when I see somebody that looks to need help I offer a meal if they go with me into the store, I have yet to have somebody accpet the offer this year... :( Not a good sign.

    I'm glad you were able to help somebody who really needed it. :)


  2. I use to help more people than I do now. Now I have to do it under cover. The other day the local homeless man(one of them anyway) looked like he could use some coffee. I know he drinks alcohol and no way was I offering money. Nice hot cup of java and buttered roll went with him. In fact I just gave the money to the deli guy and HE gave it to him. This fella will ask and ask the same people for cigs and doesn't stop . Money also, to take him to rehab which he never does go to ....very sad. I'm seeing more homeless people this month.

  3. Proud of you Ash !! You never know what a difference a cold water on a hot day or a warm coffee on a cold day will do for someone down on their life !!! God Bless !!

  4. That was a really wonderful gesture you made. I believe that really helped the vet. There really are people who need help. I live in Chicago, and go to school right in the heart of the city. The homeless are everywhere. It's a prevalent problem here and all across America.

    Like Erik said it can be easy to become jaded when you try helping people and they reject you. (It's happened me and I got stories) On the other hand, you have to remember not every homeless person is on drugs and alcohol. After a while, you can kinda sense who is who. The ones that accept the help you can give are the ones who are suppose to get it anyway. Those who don't well you got to move on quickly they missed the blessing. The point is not everyone is the same you have to take into account all your experiences.

  5. That was a great thing u did Ash i always try to help if i can it just makes me feel better knoing that someone has a warm meal or a dry place to stay


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