One of the great things about my jobs is that I get to observe people. All manner of people from all over the world. People who are economically challenged people who never seem to worry about a dollar and every kind in between. That being said, those people, the visitors to the museum, to the restaurant and the occasional contractor are not the only ones I observe.
Each and every individual has a story to tell, whether verbally, or by the actions they perform in public view. I like to believe most individuals on this planet are good. They are here trying to do their best to survive and not damage others around them. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Our history books are filled with both kinds, although the latter get much more attention than the former. Truth be told, it is easier to find out more information about Hitler, Stalin, Polpot, Amin, Hussein and many other infamous individuals that it is to find out the same volume of information on the people that actually help others. It’s an odd sort of dynamic of the human condition. We seem to thrive upon the wrong doings of others rather than focus on the charity of the masses.
This is about one of the few persons that rarely come to my attention and it is because of his actions that I write this blog. I don’t know this persons’ name so I will call him “Joe”.
Tuesday night, five in the afternoon, I’m sitting at my part time job waiting for the first customers to arrive. Seated a few feet from me was the owner and next to me his son, also a waiter. The hostess, the owner’s daughter was standing at the hostess counter. The owner and I were talking about various things in the political and not so political world. We were in good spirits and ready for a night of hard work. My coworker seated next to me was busy playing with his smart phone, a dull look of incandescent glossiness in his eyes when the door to the restaurant opens.
We were seated in the back of the restaurant where it is a bit dim and looking towards the curtained covered glass door and into the sunlight. I couldn’t make out who was standing there but what I heard peaked my interest.
“God Bless You.”
Seriously, that is what I heard on a Tuesday evening. Not the normal greeting from a patron of a food establishment. I squinted my eyes and leaned forward to get a better look as the visitor boldly stepped into the building. Both myself and the owner stopped talking and gave our full attention to the suspected patron.
“God Bless You.” He said again as he approached the hostess. She stared at him, her head cocked to the side a bit.
“Listen, I was hoping you could help me out. I’m trying to get to Norfolk on the bus to get to the homeless shelter and I only need a dollar fifty. Can you help me out? Or maybe two bucks so I can get a drink? It’s really hot out.”
The young hostess audibly sighs, nods her head and begins digging through her change purse. The sound of clinking coins add a strange tune to the jazz music playing over the speakers. I look at my boss and say “Should I just give him a coke from the fridge?” But my question falls on deaf ears. He is too engrossed in observing his daughter digging rooting around for change to pay attention to me.
“I really appreciate you helping me out, I’ve been stuck here. God Bless You.” He says again. “I can’t seem to get out of here. Thanks, God Bless You.” He then looks to the back of the restaurant and notices us sitting there looking at him. “Hi, God Bless You, thank you for your help.” He says to us.
“I’m not going to help you.” My boss says. “You need to help yourself.”
Then the man made huge mistake. He confronted my boss, a man who is a extremely smart, powerfully driven and self made. The beggar whom I’m going to call Joe as I said before looks at the owner and says “What? You don’t believe in charity?”
Oops… I say silently to myself knowing what this man and his family have done for charity in the past fifteen years. Well, I may not know how much but I do know it is a lot just from what I’ve seen.
The owner points to Joe and yells “You’re not a charity, there is nothing wrong with you. Go get a job, like everyone else.”
Joe’s reply… which was classic, “There aren’t any jobs. I’ve tried. That’s what brought me here.”
“You’re lying; there are “Help Wanted” signs all over the place. I saw three this morning on this block alone. You’re not helpless you’re just lazy.” He then looks at his daughter and says “don’t give him any money. I wouldn’t.”
The daughter/hostess stands at her station almost frozen, her gaze moving from her father to Joe. She’s unsure what to do.
“Man, you aint gonna help me? What’s up with that?” Joe questions. His voice getting louder and sounding angry.
“Get out of here. You’re just too lazy to work. We don’t need you here and stay away from our front door.” The owner retorts with almost joyful tones in his words.
Joe opens the door “Man… Fuck YOU! FUCK YOU ALL! You all can go FUCK YOURSELVES.” He yells as he leaves.
“God Bless You.” The owner says.
I laughed for ten minutes. Still am as I write this.
While it’s true, I never clearly made out “Joe’s” face it took just a few short days for me to finally realize who he was. He is the homeless man affectionately known as “Poopy-Pants”. You see, he starts panhandling around four in the afternoon and by seven o’clock at night he is so drunk he usually soils himself. Where-upon he starts to enter places of business to use their restrooms to clean himself up. He is highly unsuccessful in this venture. Why? Because who wants a drunk, stinking, poop covered man walking through a restaurant full of paying customers? Also, there are at least three public restrooms within two block of the business.
I’ve seen Joe in the past panhandling outside many of the downtown businesses. He tells the same story over and over again. He’s stuck here, he’s trying to leave and only needs a small amount to get out of town. Of course there are a lot of people who tell the same story. But only one is Poopy-Pants-Joe.
God Bless You.
Have a great week.