I was raised in the South, and in the South, you feed people. You feed them when they’re sick to make them well, when they’re sad to make them happy and when they’re alone to make them feel loved. Hell, my Momma could have fed Sylvia Plath out of the oven, given the chance. Feeding people lets them know you care.
I’m constantly trying to feed people (and animals) on the road. George is a very generous person, and would give you the shirt off his back, but he’s been out there long enough to know a con when he sees one. I, on the other hand, am an idiot when it comes to sob stories. And if someone has a dog with them, I’m liable to get the checkbook out and buy groceries and dog food. I’ve been burned more than once, but I figure the deed is still good on my end, they’re the ones who’ll have to explain why they took my money and bought meth with it instead of formula for their baby, or a bus ticket to Albuquerque.
“Hey man, my buddy kicked me out of the truck, left me stranded. I haven’t eaten for two days, you think you could help me out?”
Magic words: haven’t eaten. I was in the back making sandwiches before he finished the sentence. I packed him a sweet little lunch with turkey and swiss, apple slices, chips and a Vitamin water. Even gave him a pudding cup. Made sure he had napkins and a spoon. Wrote his name on the outside of the bag and added a little note that said, “Have a great day” with a smiley face. OK, I didn’t do that, but I packed the guy, who supposedly hadn’t eaten for two days, a nice lunch.
George handed the bag out the window to him, and he looked pretty disappointed for someone who had just been handed an awesome lunch, made by freaking Snow White in the back of our truck.
“Uh, thanks. You got a couple bucks? I need a bus ticket – they said I could get to Jacksonville for $20.”
“Nah man, I don’t carry cash. Here – my wife made you some food. Good luck, brother.”
“I’ll follow you inside, if you got a card. They got an ATM.”
“Yeah man, I’m not giving you money. You want the food?”
The guy took the bag and gave us a dirty look. Like I was trying to make his life hard by feeding him. George rolled up the window and shook his head. “What an ass.”
About half an hour later, we saw the same guy walking around the parking lot with a McDonald’s bag. My sweet little lunch bag was nowhere to be seen. I’d like to think he was really hungry, and ate my lunch before he got McDonald’s, but George says he threw it in the trash and went to the next truck, until he found someone to give him cash.
It’s hard to not be cynical, but if we stop caring because of the jackasses, they win. So whatever, jackasses, throw my sandwiches away all you want, but you’re missing out on a yummy treat, and you will not squash my sparkle today. So there.