Sh*t that only happens to me in Edmond – Fm April 30th, 2015

Had to run to Edmond this morning. On the way back I stopped at the Conoco station to grab a drink. As I passed the checkout a homeless man was standing there counting out dimes and nickels. He was thin, disheveled and his clothes looked like they hadn’t been washed in a while. I grabbed a soda and headed to check out. Before I could get there a BMW pulls up, parks in the red, and a middle-aged professional rushes in, nice clothes, expensive shoes and a tie that cost more than everything I had on at the time. A lot more. He grabs a Gatorade and flies back to the checkout, credit card in hand, cutting in front of me. The homeless man is still counting out his change as I walk up. He digs in his pocket and finds another dime or two. Mr. Professional is obviously in a hurry. He says ‘Could you hurry up’ in a voice that I’m sure makes underlings jump in his office. The homeless man turns, no emotion showing on his face. He returns to his counting. The clerk looks uncomfortable. Mr. Professional says ‘I don’t have time for this’ in an even sterner voice.
Pause.
I usually know just to keep my mouth shut and let the crap slide on by. That little devil on my shoulder won out and I said ‘Well, that would be your problem then’ in a relatively calm and quiet voice. Mr. Professional quickly turned, ready to dress me down as I’m sure he does regularly with his employees. He stopped mouth open, looked me up and down, set his Gatorade on the counter and left. I heard him mutter as he walked towards the door a vaguely directed ‘Asshole’. He jumped in his BMW (Which he’d left running. Too bad it wasn’t stolen) and peeled out loudly. I turned back to see the homeless man still attempting to count his change and the clerk with a startled expression. I said ‘ From him I’ll take that as a compliment’. The clerk smiled and mouthed a silent sorry.
The man finished counting out his two dollars and the clerk handed him a lottery ticket. I paid for my soda and went back to my car. I sat for a minute thinking about the dichotomous nature of the two characters in life’s play that I’d just interacted with. The homeless man, dirty, probably hungry spending his last two dollars on a lottery ticket. Mr. Professional, questionable character, too much money, zero empathy. These people weren’t born this way. Our society created them. The opposite ends of the American spectrum. And it depressed me.
Most of us spend our lives swimming somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Ignoring the bottom end, tolerating (at best) those at the top. Perhaps we need to engage both. Extend a helping hand to the one and a well directed middle finger to the other. We can always take a moment to help those who are less fortunate. While you can’t beat empathy into the other idiots we can put them in their place when the situation warrants. Don’t be afraid to do either.

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