Is there anything better than coffee? Even after the worst nights when I am wakened every twenty seconds by Practical Joe’s snoring, a Dog From Hell whining, or Buddha Baby wanting me to sit with him for an hour and a half while he examines his hands, in the morning there is still hot, delicious coffee. The best consolation prize.
So almost every day, to feed my caffeine addiction, I take Buddha Baby for a stroll to the nearest Starbucks, which is a few blocks away from our house. And almost every day, for the past few months, I have seen the same sketchy looking homeless man sitting outside.
I’m always just a bit scared of all homeless people, but this one really gives me the creeps, the way he smiles and rocks back and forth. So each day I scurry past him, pretending I am in a big rush to get my coffee. (The last thing I want is for him to know that I am scurrying because of him and then attack me for being so judgmental.)
But today I notice something different. Sketchy Homeless Guy has a dog. It's a black and brown mutt that looks to be about 6 months old. He has a sign too that says “Please help feed dog.”
He can’t feed the dog? Poor pup! I can’t just scurry past him now, can I?
I take a deep breath and approach. “Is this your dog?”
(In a British accent) “Yes, it’s me dog. It’s me hangry dog.”
He tells me that he found the puppy in an ally and he’s been unable to afford proper food for her. He says in order to feed her he takes turns letting her eat his food from the shelter. Some days he’ll eat, and others the dog will eat.
Aside from being horrified at the thought of a poor puppy (and man) not having enough food to eat, I’m also mad at myself for having negatively judged this poor fellow. He’s obviously very kind-hearted to give up his food at the shelter for this puppy.
I end up standing there for about ten minutes talking to Nice Homeless Guy. He tells me that he’s been homeless for fifteen years, but that he used to be a banker in London. After his wife died he was so depressed that he couldn’t work and then it all spiraled down from there. (He also tells me something about his son but I can’t understand due to his heavy accent. Still, I nod empathetically.)
As I am standing there I notice people giving me evil “how-could-you-talk-to-him-when-you-have-a-baby” stares. As I am contemplating shouting out at a woman who is glaring at me from the bus stop, Nice Homeless Guy interrupts the thought.
“Could you do me a favor love?”
“Could you buy me some hooch?”
I have no idea what hooch is, but I assume it’s alcohol… or worse.
I stutter something inaudible, feeling pretty stupid now. I wonder who put the idiot sign on my forehead?
“Kidding!” he says with a toothless grin.
Wow, he’s kind to animals and he has a sense of humor. I have single friends who might date him (if they could get over the whole homelessness situation).
I head for the coffee shop to grab him and myself a cup of coffee and a muffin. Then I run over to the supermarket and buy a huge bag of puppy food for the dog.
When I leave Nice Homeless Guy, he is smiling. But on the way home, my coffee isn’t quite as comforting as it normally is.