To the Man with No Shoes Headed to Pikesville

I went to McDonald’s for an egg white sandwich. I heard a commercial that said they were going to serve breakfast all day now, except my local McDonald’s decided not to, and so I pulled out of the drive-thru exasperated and headed for home.

You were sitting against a telephone pole at the end of the drive leaving the parking lot with a sign in your hand that said:

Pikesville  —>

I slowed down long enough to see the curly gray hair on top of your head, the camouflaged jacket, the plastic Rite Aid bag at your side. Your skin was tanned and deeply wrinkled. I was instantly reminded of my uncle. . .and I drove right past you. It took me two more turns and a mile down the road to decide to turn back around.

It took a mile for me to find my empathy and I am so very sorry.

I turned back around and pulled up beside you. In the backseat, my son was giggling. I could hear the crinkle of his toy as he chewed on the soft muzzle of a stuffed dog. The radio was playing some country song I barely heard, and you were sitting on the asphalt, looking up at me.

Creative commons photo by Flickr user Alex E. Proimos

Creative commons photo by Flickr user Alex E. Proimos

“I can’t give you a ride,” I said. “But are you hungry?”

“Yes,” you said.

I know I asked you if you liked burgers and you nodded your head. You reached for your pocket and said, “I have two dollars.” Your fingers dug into your jean pockets as you spoke. “They won’t let me in since I don’t have shoes.”

I looked down at saw your bare feet.

Bare feet.

On hot, black asphalt.

I told you to keep the money. I told you I’d be right back. I pulled back through the drive-thru and ordered you lunch and a soda. I got you a coffee and thought that I didn’t know how you’d take it. I got it with cream and sugar. I worried over the coffee. It seemed such a personal choice, and I hadn’t even asked you.

I yelled at the woman in the drive-thru. She could see you from the window. I said they should have let you in, that they could have let you use the drive-thru window, that someone shouldn’t have to sit outside their restaurant and be hungry.

Because it’s 2015 and we have iPads and computers and designer clothes and $500 purses and a million and one other things. . .and if we have all these things,

then no one should be hungry and everyone should have shoes.


Original: Creative Commons Design:

Original: Creative Commons

She could generate a laugh
from the tarred sacks of her lungs,
from cholesterol clogged veins,
from the empty pockets of torn jeans.

She could say,
“I’m broke,”
like the rattle of a car
spitting black fumes
and popping loud shot-gun blasts.

She never dreamed of escape,
a way out.

She never reminisced
or stirred ancient ghosts with her running mind.

She walked forward –
one step.

She slid on her pants, one leg at a time,
from the stranger’s bedroom floor.

She was so alive they envied her poorness.

She was a feast to behold –
starving inside.

© Laura A. Lord, 2015

Thank you to The Sunday Whirl for their prompt this week.