Archive for December 5, 2007

The Dollar General Store

December 5, 2007

I stopped by the Dollar General on my way home from work today. I didn’t necessarily need anything specific except for some cat food and toothpaste, but as usual, that didn’t stop me from browsing for good deals. I saw some pretty picture frames and Christmas wrapping paper and the pile in my arms grew larger the longer I stayed in the store. While shopping, I had to walk by an older gentleman several times. This gentleman was obviously homeless and had been standing in the canned goods aisle since I walked in the store. I couldn’t help but wonder about him. Where did he sleep at night? Did he have family to help? Did he have money to buy food? These questions flitted through my head as I walked past him again on the way to the checkout counter. I wondered what I could do to help him. As I stood in line, he walked up behind me, eyes downcast, lost in his heavy winter coat (while it was a balmy 70 degrees outside). The line was long and I began to debate with myself. Should I offer to help this gentleman? I didn’t want to insult or embarrass him, but I wanted to do something to show him that not all people are like the man who stood beside him. The man who ignored the gentleman’s friendly questions and finally jerked his packages and walked away from the man as if he was insulted to be approached by one so dirty. As I approached the counter, I turned to the gentleman and, as quietly as possible, asked if I could add his items to my own. He consented and began to explain to me how his wife had died recently and he was a little low on cash because his Social Security check was late again.

As the cashier wrung up his two meager purchases, I guiltily looked at my unnecessary pile. When compared to his jar of peanut butter and can of spam, it looked pretty worthless. Too soon, I handed him his bag and picked up my own and we were gone. He hugged me as he left. That was just one of the many hugs I have gotten and will get today. I wonder how many that is for him.