Sunday, February 7, 2010

day 38 Gave Gift Card to a Homeless Man

Gave a McDonalds Gift Card to a Homeless Man.

During the first round of Project Nice I gave money to a man who was recently lost his house and job. He needed someplace to stay. I only had four dollars, but I quickly handed it over to him. After that, several people told me I should have bought him food-- I had gone back and tried to give him a gift card for Dunkin Donuts but I couldn't find him.

This time around I had learned from mistakes of the first go and I wanted to do something different, and a little better.

My husband sat down with me and helped me create a list 31 things to do for Project Nice. I was having a neverous meltdown because I thought (and I was right) that I would be trapped in my house because of a massive snow storm and how was going to be nice to people if I'm trapped in my house... The irony was the day before I sent out a list of 10 tips for people who are doing Project Nice where you didn't need to directly interact with people. Not once during that meltdown did I think, "Gee, I could do the stuff I suggested."

Back to the point.

This one was my Hubby's idea and I wanted to make sure I gave him credit for it.

There's a homeless man who sits on the off ramp of 95 north @ 175. (If you live in my town, all of this makes sense to you, if not, sorry.) He's there every day. He has a sign saying he needs a job.

He looks like Santa Claus, he's elderly, with a white beard, red cheeks, a fitted cap and an old coat.

I was going to my writer's group meeting after school and I purposely took 95 to get there. I had a gift card my aunt had sent us. I'm not a fan of McDonalds, but they do have a lot of food for a dollar. My Hubby activated the card the night before, since you needed to go on-line to do it and we didn't think the homeless man had internet access.

It was prefect I took the off ramp. With one hand on the wheel and the other in my purse, I grabbed the gift card on the first attempt. That in itself was pretty amazing since it normally takes me a while to find my cell phone and my keys. I was the last car in line and there was no one behind me. I pulled over to shoulder and rolled down my window. "Sir, I have this gift card for ten dollars, can I give it to you?" I asked.

His Santa smile showed through his gray beard, "Thank you, God bless you."
"You're welcome, please stay safe and have a good night." I told him.

Now the off ramp has a traffic light, which is one of the reasons why he stays there. The light was green when I was pulling over.

I looked up, and now the light was red.

"Oh, I missed my light." I said. It was mean or disappointed. I was mostly shocked at how quickly the light had changed.
"oh." He said.
"um, well, have a good night."
"Yeah, God Bless you."

This is when it got awkward. I inched my car back onto the lane, and rolled up my window. I debated, should I keep talking to him? Or would that make it worse? We both spent the next 30 seconds pretending the other didn't exist. He went back to his milk crate and continued to smoke his cigar, I listened to my music and checked around for other cars.

Yep, sometimes doing nice things can turn into a slightly awkward situation. Maybe it was just me, who felt awkward.

The light turned green and I drove off. I was thinking about the fact he was elderly and it wasn't fair that anyone should spend the last remaining days of their life on the side of the road. I wondered about his life, the choices he had made, the opportunities he might have had or not had.

Life isn't fair. It's a statement my parents had told me constantly while I was growing up. As I get older and as I've been doing project nice, I've been more and more aware of the unfairness of life. Mostly I'm more and more grateful for all that I have.

By the time Writers group was over, he was gone. I don't know where he spends his nights.

Would I do it again: Yes.
Cost: Nothing, my Aunt had given me the gift card
Effort: I made a slightly effort to drive that way, but the interaction was quick and easy.
Time: 15 seconds to give him the card, 30 more second sitting awkwardly at the light.

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