Generosity of a Homeless Man
--by Nellybelly, posted May 17, 2008
I used to work at a warehouse that was down the street from a homeless shelter. It was right next door to a little gas station where they made breakfast sandwiches daily and I would walk over before my shift started and get a sandwich and a coke every morning. There was always someone or the other standing around outside asking for money to get something to eat. As a single mother I rarely had money to spare but sometimes I would give them my change until I noticed most of them would go inside and buy a beer with the money instead of food. I stopped giving out my change and just told them I didn't have any.
One day as I was walking out of the store, I noticed an old black man who was obviously homeless. However, interestingly, he was always wearing a nice suit and tie and just sitting on the sidewalk watching the cars go by. When I walked past him, he asked me in a very kind voice if I had any change to spare so he could get a sandwich. Before I could say a word, he added that he wasn't wanting "beer money". I had just enough money in my pocket that day to pay for another sandwich and a can of coke. So, I just walked back inside the store, without saying a word, and bought him some breakfast. When I came out and gave it to him, his eyes lit up and he said "God bless you ma'am!" We sat and talked for a minute before I had to get to work.
It became an everyday ritual. Whenever I had the money to spare I would buy 2 sandwiches and 2 cokes and we would sit outside the store, have our breakfast together in the parking lot and talk for a while until it was time for me to go to work. I found out that Mr. Massey had been a preacher before he went off to war. He had lost one of his legs while overseas and when he came back he couldn't find work and had been homeless ever since. He still preached, but now it was on Sundays at the homeless shelter and a local thrift store donated a new suit to him every week.
For a while I had stopped buying our breakfast every morning because my son's birthday was coming up and I was saving up every penny I could to buy him some gifts. I told Mr. Massey the reason why I couldn't afford to buy our breakfasts and he said he understood, but would still like to sit and talk with me if it was ok. He said it was the high point of his day. So we still had our chats every morning but without the breakfast.
My son's birthday finally came and I was feeling really depressed because I only had the money to get him a few little things after all the bills were paid. I walked out to my car to go home that afternoon and to my surprise, there in the seat sat 3 bags from Toys 'R Us full of toys, a gift card to Kroger for a birthday cake and inside was a card that said "Happy Birthday Chris!" with a little smiley face. When I stood up, I could see Mr. Massey walking away from the warehouse parking lot, joyfully whistling the melody for "Happy Birthday."
The next day when it came time for our morning chat, he had a big grin on his face. I asked Mr. Massey if he had left the gifts in my car. He avoided the question and with a glitter in his eye, asked if Chris had a good birthday. I never got him to give me a straight answer about the birthday gifts but I knew it was him. Not too long after that, Mr. Massey passed away but every year on my son's birthday, he gets a card in the mail with no return address that says nothing but "Happy Birthday Chris!" with a little smiley face. Is it from Mr Massey? Did my path cross with Mr. Massey to help get me through that rough time in my life? I'm not sure but I save every card my son gets so when he gets older I can tell him about our friend, Mr. Massey.
If i have smile cards i also give them a card too.