A Man…

…was sitting in a wheelchair on a street. Shrugged over, eyes closed, right hand slumped over a can of beer. Right foot: old bandages. Left foot: an old shoe.

“A homeless,” I thought, my belly full of the burrito I just ate (and a little bit of beer). “Maybe I should give him some money? Nah, he’ll just spend it on bee… wait… he’ll spend it on the same things I just spent it on. Why am I judging?” I put on my helmet, my gloves, turned toward my motorcycle at the curb, argued with myself for another minute, then turned around and walked up to the man. “In a week, I’ll be at Burning Man where there are no transactions, only gifts. I should start practicing today,” I thought.

He woke up from my presence, but wasn’t looking at me at first.

“Here, have a nice night, sir” I said, putting a $20 bill into his hand. He didn’t grab it, and it almost fell out.
“What? You said what? What’s this?” he asked. And then he looked up at me. Black eyes, blacker than his skin. Ahhh, he’s blind.
“Just some money, you can take it.” I answered.
“Oh. OH! Thank.. I didn’t… thank you. But.. wait.. how much, what is it?”
“That’s 20 bucks.”
“What? Twe… twenty? Twenty dollars? Oh my. Oh my. Is it truly, in my hand, right now?”
“It is, sir.”
“This here? This here is that much?” I felt my heart retreat.
“Yes. You should hide it in a pocket.”

“Oh yes, I should, I should. Thank you, thank you,” the man mumbled, with expression on his face that I may never forget – expression of most pleasant surprise, perhaps hope of some kind. Hope, like an old friend who does not visit often. He instinctively tried to put the bill in his front shirt pocket, perhaps still half-asleep, for he was wearing a sweater that didn’t have a front pocket.

“Oh, there’s no pocket there, sir. Try a jeans pocket. Have a nice night,” I said, as I pat him on a shoulder and walked away. “Oh, oh, and you.”

I gave before, but that.. felt different. That felt substantial. Perhaps because I gave without being asked. Perhaps because I expected a druggie, but found a broken, truly disabled man.

I left him: a most unexpected surprise painted on his face.

He left me: a fresh pair of water droplets stuck in my eye sockets.