Tonight, on my way home from putting in 9 hours at the garage, I swung by Kroger to pick up a few groceries. Somehow we managed to not move our bottle of soy sauce from the old place. Soy sauce is a funny thing – it lingers as little packets in the fridge and becomes a part of your daily awareness long after the last time you had Chinese takeout.
We needed some for the casserole I was making for dinner tonight but since I wasn’t really in a big rush, I called up my dad and chatted with him for a bit while sitting in the parking lot. We talked politics, we talked cooking, we talked about the goofy things Sonic and Leo were up to. And while we talked I watched this girl standing at the entrance to the shopping center parking lot with a cardboard sign. She looked to be about my age with a burgundy jacket and a small backpack. Wooly hat. Jeans. Homeless.
Every single person leaving the lot drove past her. Like a soy sauce packet, no one seemed to pay any attention to the girl with the sign. Normally, I’m that person. Normally, I drive past folks with their signs, maybe glancing to see what they have scrawled on the cardboard in dark letters.
Tonight though, I didn’t drive by. Instead I walked up to her and asked her if I could get her something hot for dinner from the deli. At first I don’t think she believed me. She hedged and when I mentioned I was going to get some macaroni for myself she said ravioli would be good. If they had soup though, she’d really like some chili.
So I bought her dinner. A bowl of Stampede Steak Chili, a 32 oz. jug of orange juice and a chocolate peppermint bark snowman because no one wants chili breath all night long.
She thanked me and said God bless.
I wanted to tell her not to worry about it. That I was going home to make dinner for my husband in our messy kitchen. That I just finished talking to my dad on the phone and that both my parents love me and have always lifted me up. That I have a job that pays quite well given my level of experience.
Instead, I wished her a good night and told her I hoped she’d stay warm.
While leaving Kroger and cradling the chili I walked past the Salvation Army guy with his bucket. The sign above it said: “Doing the Most Good.” I didn’t leave any change in the bucket though. They’ve been out there every day since Thanksgiving and I question how much good loose change can do when there are more active ways of effecting change.
No, buying the girl with the sign dinner won’t change her life. But it could do the most good in her life for just today. And I’m okay with that.