Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Good deed gone...wrong!

During my first week living in Los Angeles (end of June 2012), my friend Claire and I were running around Los Angeles in her rental car exploring and running random errands related to my arrival in this new Wonderland. (If you haven't yet read my blog about "The Calling" it would explain Claire and my how my Calling struck me on the 2nd day.)
 Claire and I my first week in LA in her rental car

At one point, Claire decided to stop at a CVS store to pick up a few things before we went to the beach for the first time, just to lay out in our bikinis on towels in the sand. I had a boot cast on my foot still from my January 2012 stress fracture. I had been in and out of that damn boot since the injury. My foot kept having flare-up pain, and the packing and moving to Los Angeles made my foot throb, so I put it back in the boot. When we parked at CVS, Claire got out and seemed to haul ass into the CVS. Maybe it just seemed like she was hauling ass because I was slow and limping along behind her. You can read about my foot injury in this blog: "The War Vet"
                                                             My boot-casted foot

A homeless man was sitting right next to the entrance to the CVS with a backpack. He was looking down at the ground solemnly, looking really weary and worn out when Claire passed him. But once I caught up and began to approach the entrance, he looked up at me and asked, "Do you have any food or something to spare?"  He caught me off guard, and I just said "No, sorry" and went along into the store. As I wandered around the store, I thought about the homeless man, what he had asked me, and the way he had asked it. There was something in his voice that made me believe that he was genuinely hungry. He wasn't just your everyday guy asking for money. He had asked for food, and it sounded like he meant it.

I went to the grocery area of the store, and located a ham sandwich and bottle of water in the refrigerated section. I bought the food items, some sunscreen, and a new blue Los Angeles towel to take to the beach. As Claire and I exited the store, I handed the bag containing the sandwich and bottle of water to the homeless man, saying, "Here ya go." His reaction was worth so much more than the food. He looked so surprised, and happy when he peered into the bag. He looked up with big bright eyes and exclaimed, "THANK YOU!.. THANK YOU!". Claire saw the whole thing.

The next day, Claire and I walked next door from my new apartment building to a little shopping center nearby to check out a little thrift store on the second floor, just to see what they might have. I found a wall shelf that I wanted to buy, and the lady took a long time to ring me up because it was a new register and she was trying to figure out how to use it.

While I patiently waited for the register lady to ring me up, Claire disappeared out of the store to go explore the rest of the shopping center or something. Once I took the elevator down and ran back into Claire, she reported a crazy story:

She said that she'd come upon a homeless man hanging out in a walkway near the stairs, and she'd decided to buy him some food. She'd gone into a little convenience store in the shopping center and bought him a sandwhich and, get this....A BEER!!  I was like "Omg Claire you bought a homeless man a BEER?! What were you thinking??" LOL
She looked down with a mixed look of shame and dismay, and added, "A cop saw him with the beer and gave him a ticket for having it on the premises!" OOOOMMMMGGGG
Talk about a good deed backfiring!

Lesson: Don't buy the homeless any alcohol, for more than just the obvious reason!

I know Claire meant well with her action. My opinion is that I felt really bad for the homeless guy. He can't even enjoy a gifted cold beer on a hot summer day without a cop harassing him. I wish the cop could have given the guy a break. How's he supposed to afford paying a ticket when he's homeless anyway??

This incident caused an interesting ripple affect. One could argue that my good deed for one homeless man indirectly led to an unfortunate incident happening for another homeless man!

~Mandelyn Reese
The LA Street Angel

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