Last week I posted the story that Missy contacted me about in regards to a random act of kindness gone very wrong at the hands of Chick-fil-A employees. (You can read that post here.)
Last summer Jonesie and I were presented the exact same situation, but there was a very different outcome. Even still, I think that the lesson in this is that there is still kindness in the world and that we, as humans, should lend a hand because we are ALL equal.
Anyone that lives in or around me has seen Mike. He’s a homeless man that walks around in everything that he owns. No matter what the temperature is outside he wears full coveralls, snow boots, a winter coat, and a black beanie cap. …And he walks.
He used to live under a bridge not far from our house. He had a mattress and some other “comfort” items from what I’ve heard. About six years ago some punk kids lit his stuff on fire hence the reason that he wears everything that he owns.
Over time I figured out that he frequents Taco Bell (It’s actually a Taco Bell/KFC, but I’ll refer to it as Taco Bell) regularly. I know this because in between shuffling the boys from one place to another , Jonesie and I would have 30 minutes or so before baseball practice was over. Sometimes we would stop in to Taco Bell, eat dinner, waste time and then order to go for the older boys.
One time when the older boys were with me and we cashed in on the Rockies Taco Bell deal (at the time is was 4 tacos for $1) we had a few tacos leftover so we offered them to Mike and he declined.
All of the employees know him by name and always greet him with a cheery “hey Mike”. (That’s how I know his name.) He always walks in and goes straight to the bathroom to wash his hands. And then he gets in line and in an unexpectedly soft spoken, almost childish voice orders a meal that costs less than $2.
It was that last time that it occurred to me that he was a regular. Why not? You can still get a fairly cheap meal there, right? Anyway, he usually sits at a corner table keeping to himself. He does talk to himself, sometimes he gets fairly loud and he does use profanity.
One day he got a little loud and the f* bombs were flying. I had Jonesie with me and while it was a little strange he, in all of his 8 year old wisdom, just “gets” that this isn’t the norm.
What I saw next shocked me. That manager who could have handled the situation in a million different ways, none of which I would I have guessed right, came over to him acting like he was wiping down tables that were already cleaned and he said “hey Mike, how’s it going? You doing alright?” And that seemed to bring Mike back to “reality.”
Jonesie and I exchanged a look.
We waited for Mike to finish his meal and leave. As soon as he left, Jonesie and I went to the counter and I asked if he came in often to which they replied that he came in every single day. I asked if I could leave money to pay for his meal the next day. The two cashiers (one of them the new girl) kind of looked at me funny and grabbed the manager.
I told him what I wanted to do and he said that I could definitely do that and he thought it was great because Mike didn’t take handouts. Ever. He told me that there were times where people did just what I wanted to do and Mike wouldn’t take it, but if it was anonymous as I was asking to do, he would. The manager gave me an envelope and although I’d only set out to pay for his meal the next day, I stuck a $20 in the envelope and sealed it. Considering that I’d just spent $17 feeding the four of us, paying for one man to eat a meal for 10 days was the least I could do.
While I’ll never know whether the $20 actually made it to Mike, I trusted that a manager with that kind of kindness in his heart would make sure he got it.
Jonesie and I left on Cloud 9 because we didn’t just help out a homeless man, I showed my boy how little it takes to OPEN YOUR MIND.
And THAT is priceless.