Wow, talk about a backfire in an effort to spread cheer and goodwill to a man that was obviously struggling in life. His clothing and appearance depicted hard times, I felt empathy for yet another person struggling.
We live in Portland, Oregon. Home of rain, some of the most highly rated food in the nation, pioneers for the food cart craze, urban hipsters, cool beards (my husband sporting one of them), tattoos, local living, liberals and sadly, unemployment.
Downtown Portland, as many cities do, present a large group of folks without a place to call home except for perhaps stairwells and under bridges. It isn't uncommon to see people on every street corner looking for assistance.
One afternoon while waiting for our lunch at one of the trendy food carts, I observed a man who was hanging around near the tables, glancing from one group of people to the next. It appeared he was hoping he would encounter a generous stranger. I looked at this as the perfect teaching opportunity for my kids. I wanted to express to them the importance of looking beyond our own bubbles and investing in the lives of others. I asked the kids what they thought about sharing some of our meal with the man. They immediately agreed, bless their hearts. We set about making him up a plate, then we got up and approached him with the food. We let him know that we would like to share our meal with him.
He looked seriously offended, which surprised me. I got the embarrassment of my life when he said, "Lady, I'm waiting in line for them to call when my lunch order is up."
Oh crap. We had just tried to feed a homeless man who, in fact, was not homeless. Turns out he was very much employed, simply on his lunch break ordering food.
Talk about stereotyping, I blame my mistake on his clothes and his decision to participate in the No Shave November campaign going on to raise awareness for prostate cancer.
He was obviously channeling his inner love for the group, Nirvana.
Dude, the 90's called. They want their grunge back.