“Cigarette ashes with your cream cheese anyone?” The young man working at the bike shop asked in sarcasm and a chuckle from inside the store looking out the front window. The bike shop doesn’t officially open for business until ten o’clock on Saturday mornings, but they sponsor an early morning serious bicycle ride just after the crack of dawn.
The high-end bike shop lays out a breakfast spread for anybody needing to fuel up before the break-neck-speed-ride. That means bagels with an assortment of spreads, including cream cheese of course.
If you’ve ever eaten at an outside cafe that serves good sized portions and lends itself to having leftover food, especially toast or bagels that sit more than a few moments without being cleaned up, then you’ve witnessed the assortment of birds that swarm like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie… That’s what free food on Saturday mornings does for the homeless.
The man looked like a Steven King character. His clothes do double time as his pajamas and the wrinkles proved it. The earth is his bed and the ground-in stains confirmed it. The homeless man’s grey hair and teeth left little doubt that he was also brushless.
The man who looked to be in his sixties had a bird feather stuck in the back of his matted hair. It wasn’t for style, he couldn’t have known it was there, not that he would’ve cared anyway. The only thing the homeless fella was caring about on that beautiful Saturday morning was food.
While the man that has been dubbed “a bum” had little, he did have a couple of things – important things to him. One was in his mouth as he dug deep into to the pearly white cream cheese to slather a generous amount on his bagel that was intended for someone else.
His tired and overexposed skin pulled toward his eyes as he leaned over the table preparing his breakfast, the cigarette smoke billowing into them. There are no ashtrays in places where it’s against the law to smoke and the homeless man wasn’t paying attention to the one inch plus of ashes that was quickly losing the war with gravity and right over the free cream cheese.
The other important thing was the old guy’s friend with him. The disheveled man was giving his pal his opinion, and maybe someone else’s, cause he had more than just a few words to share with passion.
His friend was the type just to take it all in and not talk back… he couldn’t… he didn’t exist.
The folks at the secular high-end bike shop laughed off the ashes falling in their cream cheese that they’d bought for their potential customers and let the homeless man have as much as he wanted. No questions asked. No catch.
My hat is off to anyone or organization that serves the homeless, Christian or otherwise. Of all the “fishers of men”, who tend to use “different bait for different fish”, I wonder if different bait may sometimes be no bait at all. No strings attached, no expectations.
There are still some organizations that act like the time share salesman; they’ll give you a gift, but you gotta hear the pitch first.
There’s more to a difficult subject than can be covered in less than six hundred words… but sometimes my soul flinches when I see non-Christians acting more like Christians than the Christians.