Just Five Minutes & Just For Men
I posted a few days ago on Facebook about Dennis, the veteran that introduced himself to me.
I made light of the conversation we had because he thought I was WAY OLDER than I really am.
Now I’m mentally browsing what shade of “Just For Men” I should purchase.
But I digress…
I was on the way home after work last Friday and had to stop and pick up some cat food. It appears Boudreaux gets bitchy when there’s no food.
I stopped at the CVS on Kings and Youree. A quick in-and-out stop for some overpriced cat food. I’ll do about anything to avoid a Wal-Mart or a crowded grocery store.
As I pulled into the lot, I saw this extremely gaunt elderly man walking from the parking lot of the Chinese restaurant next door. He was carrying a backpack and three or four brightly colored t-shirts in his left hand.
He was making a bee line toward the CVS entrance.
My first thought was, “Crap. He’s going to ask for money or try to sell me something“.
I opened the car door and before my foot hit the ground, there he was.
“Sir, can you help me?”
I sighed on the inside.
But being a cordial man, I said, “I can try.”
He said, “Sir, I’ve been trying to sell these t-shirts up and down the street for a few hours now. No one wants one.”
If you’ve ever seen my closet, the collection of 5K and Metallica t-shirts is quite impressive. I’m pretty sure I didn’t need another.
I said, “Well, to be honest I have a bunch of t-shirts I never wear. What are you selling them for?”
He said, “Food. My wife and I haven’t eaten in about three days.”
Based on his appearance, I felt that he hadn’t eating well in quite some time. He was well groomed and well spoken, but seemed quite desperate and feeble.
His look was convincing.
In his hand I noticed a small, white ID card with his picture on it.
His name was Dennis. I couldn’t read his last name. His thumb was in the way.
But the first name, picture and title of the ID were quite clear:
“Veterans Administration” was the title across the top of the card.
For a silent moment I felt the panhandling pressure drop.
I told him I had no cash, but to sit still and I’d be right back.
As I was combing the aisles looking for Meow Mix, my thoughts were consumed.
“How does a man who served our nation end up this way?”
I’m sure there are choices he could’ve made that put him in his predicament.
For some reason, at this moment in time, I owed him for my freedoms.
I went to the register and paid for my cat his food and answered “Yes” to the cash back option on the credit card machine.
I went outside and handed Dennis $20. He smiled.
I asked him if he needed a ride. He said yes.
He lived not too far. I obliged and we climbed in the car.
We had a short conversation about his tenure in the Army, about what I did for a living, my age (as mentioned above) and about how nice my Chrysler was.
Even though he thought I was 15 years older than I really am, the rest of the conversation was quite pleasant.
As we were coming to a stop, I said “Dennis, thank you.”
“For what?” he asked.
“Putting your life on the line to protect my freedom.”
As he opened the car door, he asked my name and shook my hand.
He said, “Mr. Eric, God put you in my path for a reason today, sir. Thank you for stopping.”
Little did he know that our meeting was probably meant more for me than him…
Amazing how something can change your life in just five minutes.