Tonight, (November 6, 2014) towards the end of my shift, a man walked slowly back and forth in-front of the store a couple of times before coming in. He had a walking stick, and looked shaggy.. But a lot of people look shaggy in Mississippi. I was topping pizzas by the time he came in but I had been watching him, mainly because I knew my car was out front and unlocked. He leaned over the counter and talked to my manager. At this point I knew he was looking for something to eat, so I walked around to see if that was the case. She told him we didn’t have anything and pointed to the “no soliciting” sign. He left and I followed. I stood outside removing, my car top sign, and asked him when the last time he had eaten was. He told me at the hospital he had been discharged from. After five minutes or so he wasn’t a stranger anymore. He was Larry, a veteran who had just been discharged from the hospital following an aneurysm where he had lost partial eye sight. That explained why his hair looked somewhat clean under his sweat stained hat. He showed me his hospital bracelet. I walked back inside with my car topper and ordered him a pizza under his name and then invited him in to sit. He’d had back surgery a few years before and that’s why he needed the cane. My boss looked at me with a look that said she felt somewhat foolish. She told me that that was sweet. I told her I’ve been homeless, and you can never judge a book by it’s cover. I’d seen him pace in-front of the store, as he probably was gathering the courage to ask for something to eat. When his order came out I handed it to him and told him he could sit in the lobby instead of trying to juggle the box and the walking stick outside, but he said he didn’t want to take the only bench in case “real customers” came in. He looked ashamed and embarrassed. I felt my cold heart warm up a little. My actions appeared to be full of love, and though I knew I was doing the right thing, I didn’t feel it like I usually do.. But I did feel it. I’ve been so concerned with myself and lost in trying to figure out how to find my feet and fix myself… Who is Storme? What would Storme do? So I started asking others about trials and tribulations I know of in their lives.. And just checking in .. Letting them know I care and I love them.. Two hours later I am now home from work, and tho I still have this headache, and I’m completely exhausted again.. The fog has lifted quite a bit, and a ray of love is shining thru. I’ve missed feeling that.
2016 update – that same pizza store now feeds the homeless on a regular basis. The ripple effect of that day is felt daily. Unfortunately, Larry died a few months later while still in Gulfport. The staff at the store were effected by it. Larry was a veteran and should’ve never been homeless, facing hunger and medical needs in his home country.. the land of the free.. for which he fought. I know I will never forget the impact of that day. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are doing for others. #payitforward