Yesterday, I was out enjoying lunch with one of my good friends and coworker. This is usually our gripe about work lunch, and a few others usually join us. However, one of them was probably on her back porch on a conference call and the other had just returned from India the night before and was not at work. So the two of us sat talking about various things when this guy slides past our table on crutches and literally falls in the chair at the table next to ours. Yep, it was Tuesday, and Tuesday seems to be homeless dude on crutches day for me.
So Roy, as we later found out his name to be, proceeded to tell us all about his current illness, his days in the ‘war’, his battle with brain cancer and his current job singing at a local drinking establishment. As a matter of fact Roy, who by the way is not homeless dude from last week, serenaded us with three of his own songs that evidently he had composed.. He has according to him, been on the Grand Ole’ Opry several times. His creative lyrics even mentioned a Greasy Farmer.
There we were, stuck. He continued to sing and talk and weave his tale, we continued to nervously eat, glancing looks at each other, trying to figure out a way out. I was waiting for the question – “Do you have some spare change?”, “Can you buy my lunch?”, “Can you help me with …?” And then it came. It started like this. “Do you like my singing?”.
I expected, then how about a few dollars. But no he said “Do you have change for a twenty?”. Without having to look I knew all I had was crisp ATM dispensed twenties, nothing bigger, nothing smaller, so I responded “No, sir.”. He then said “Do you like my singing?, Hey how much was that salad you are eating?” I responding with a rough estimate of the price, because in all honesty, I really didn’t know. When I checked out, I just gave the cashier dude my plastic and whammo I had lunch! At this point, I was getting really anxious, where is this going I was wondering? Are others in the restaurant wondering what is going? What is the management going to think about this exchange?
And here comes the surprise. “Hey, you can see I can barely walk, can you go up and get me whatever you had, I want to be like you!” (At this point I know the dude is half insane, as being like me would put him over the top.) “I’ve got a twenty”. He stood up reached into his pocket and pulled out a twenty and handed it to me.
So off we went to purchase Roy’s lunch with Roy’s money. We brought the meal over to him, shook his hand, exchanged pleasantries and then we walked back up the hill to the office, just a little mystified.
There are two lessons hidden in this little encounter I think. The first one relates to last Wednesdays post about homeless dude. I was frustrated last week that I didn’t take any time to even see what was up with that guy. Yesterday I was given some what of a redo and although I had fully expected to be asked for money, all he wanted was someone to listen to him and to help him.
The second lesson comes from Roy himself. Remember, this lunch usually contained some element of a gripe session. Well from the moment Roy sat down he kept referring to the gifts he had been given from God and how God gave him his strength to keep going forward. And let me tell you, Roy has had his share of beat downs, its pretty amazing that he can still give glory to his Creator. That is such a lesson for me. I find myself caught up in the non-essentials and sometimes overlook the gifts and strength that come from our Creator. I hope that I can remember this little lesson from the Greasy Farmer, remember that my strength is from God, no matter what.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth Psalm 121:1-2 (New International Version)