A Friend and a Jacket
A Friend and a Jacket
They say angels can come in any shape, size, race or gender. I agree with that. I probably have meet one or two in my time, and I hope I made them proud.
There is a local gas station that I frequent a lot for different reasons. I come in contact with all kinds of people there. Friends, family, clerks I know, but today I saw two people that stood out. I saw two people I did not recognize. Two homeless looking men (being completely honest) one white and one black. Both of them seemed so out of place. At first glance, I saw them from a distance, sitting near the front door. My first impression raised the question in my head… what are those two guys doing? Their clothes were dirty, and their jackets seemed old and frail. As i continued to mentally judge them, I saw one attempting to fix his zipper of his coat to zip it up. As I began to walk towards the door, I continued to watch them. The closer I got, the more judgmental I became. Their clothes seemed more worn and I noticed now that one of them had a backpack. A green backpack with a water bottle, and other items that was probably all he had to his name. I began to think of the last homeless person that I had seen at this same gas station. He was intoxicated, rude, and non appreciative. I immediately put these two guys into that category. I was wrong.
I went inside the store, purchased my items and began to leave. As I came out, the two men were still in the same spot, but I noticed something. I noticed their clothes, even though they did not show a name brand, not freshly washed or matching, they were neatly tucked into their pants. I noticed a smile from the black male and his teeth appeared to be freshly brushed. The white gentleman who was working on his jacket zipper was now half way zipped and had gloves on. The other had put a toboggan on and gave me a slight head nod with a polite. “Hello sir”.
I’m not sure what clicked, or what happened next but I stopped and said, How are you? He replied with ” I am blessed to have a coat and a toboggan, it is going to be a cold night”. I smiled and said, yes it is chilly. My curiosity aroused. I was close enough to smell alcohol, but didn’t smell anything. I was close enough to hear his voice, and I knew what he was saying was truthful. He was thankful. I asked the only question that was on my mind “Do I know you from somewhere?”
I asked him this question because he was so familiar to me. His face was so recognizable, and his eyes silently said gave off the feeling of someone saying…hello old friend. After my question, his smile got bigger. He giggled as he said “I get that a lot” I immediately asked if he was from around here and he replied, “my whole life”. By now, his friend had stood up and walked near enough to hear our conversation. I asked them where they were heading and the other said they were going back towards the shelter. I said Shelter? Obvious to them I had said in a manner that sounded like a question, the one I had been speaking with said, “Yep the shelter, my mom kicked me out of the house and I am trying to get on my feet”. He goes on to tell me that he had met the other man the first night at the shelter when someone tried to steal his coat while he slept on a small portable bed. His new friend had prevented the theft from occurring. About the same time, the other man let out a “We have to take care of each other” I then immediately understood why he was proud to have that coat because that was the only one he had and it almost was stolen from him. He continues to tell me he had interviewed for a job nearby and was passing back through going back to the shelter. Passing through I thought, just like we all are.
I introduced my self by name and reached my hand out to shake his hand. He told me his name was Matt and his friend was Roger with a firm handshake then the introduction was over. He talks again about the cold weather and makes the comment, “it is not as cold as I thought”as he begins to walk away. I start to walk back to my car thinking about Matt and Roger. I began to wonder what their story was. Why did they seem so different and why did he give that smile when he responded that he gets that a lot when I asked if I knew him. I shrugged it off and went on with my day.
I think about that interaction that day. I question my premature judgement of who they were before I came out of the store. I question why I saw them so differently walking into the store versus walking out of the story. I remember distinctive qualities about their clothes and backpacks but one thing that is blank to me now is their face. I cannot remember their face. I remember the one I spoke with was a black male, and the other a white male. I remember how familiar he looked but now less than a few days later I can’t remember what he actually looked like.
I think back to our conversation and how I can remember it so vividly and remember thinking how thankful he was for his friend and his coat. He had probably been looked down on before. He had probably been laughed at, ridiculed, made fun of and more. I am glad I caught my judgmental actions before I left. I am glad I cleared my negative thoughts and learned a valuable lesson that I want to share with you.
Sometimes we forget that everyone doesn’t have it as good as we do. We have jobs, stable relationships, supportive spouses, roofs over our heads and healthy kids. We over eat and leave food on our plates, judge others that are not like us and do this why we are angry over trivial meaningless things. We don’t know what storms others have been through. We don’t know the paths they have taken, or do we realize how quick we could be on those same paths.
The experience reminded me of Gods love. Who were those two men? Will I see them again? I don’t know, but I do realize …No matter how big you are, how small you are, no matter if you make a ton of money, or struggle to pay the bills …just be thankful. Thankful not to be so judgmental. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful to have a family that loves you. Be thankful for the roof over your head. Be thankful for the meals you eat. Be thankful for your health. Be thankful for being able to live your life with freedom.
And most importantly be thankful for a friend and a jacket, someday that may be all you have…
Who’s life will you touch today?