Along this long and crazy road called life I've learned that there are two places that the homeless love to congregate: A.) Starbucks, and B.) Wherever I happen to be when they see me walk by.
It runs in the family. I recall my father was regularly greeted by a homeless woman along his daily commute who would fondly reffer to him by wacky off-the-cuff nicknames like "kidnapper," "government spy," or "the devil."
So it wasn't much of a surprise when I approached the front door of my local Starbucks to hear a gruffled voice behind me yell, "Excuse me, son!"
I turned around full prepared to pat my pockets and give a slow shrug of the shoulders that said, "Sorry dude, no change today." But my plans were interrupted once I was met by the sight of an old man in a wheelchair donning a large gardening hat. His wrinkled fingers gripped the wheels at his sides as he attempted to push himself forward.
The process was painfully slow, and to make matters worse, he had only made it into the middle of the intersection.
"Could you help push me up there?" He asked quite simply.
The scene turned oddly dramatic as a light rain started to fall, something unheard of lately for Visalia, CA. Somewhere, in the distance, I could have sworn a violin was playing.
I said sure and and quickly rushed out to grab the back of his chair before the next wave of approaching cars. Luckily this was at 6:30 in the morning, so the risk of danger was relatively small. I then pushed him up the concrete slope onto the sidewalk and asked, "Is here good?"
"No," he said, shaking his head, "I want to go in."
Made sense, considering the rain, but I stopped in my tracks when I noticed that the recently remodeled Starbucks hadn't updated their entrance to allow for a large wheelchair draped in homeless accessories (bags, bottles, cat scraps... etc.). Nevertheless, I wasn't about to leave this man out to face the harsh element of a light drizzle, so I pushed onward.
That was when I, and everyone else inside of the Starbucks, discovered that the front door is indeed capable of fitting a wheelchair, except only barely. The metal rims of the wheels immediately scraped loudly against the metal door frame, releasing a sound I imagine is similar to a hundred angry cats being released into a chalkboard factory. For fifteen long seconds I pushed the squealing chair inside, until I finally succeeded in placing him in a comfortable place by the window.
And it was then that I realized... no one else is going to push this guy out of here. In fact, he might still be there, inside of that Starbucks, or what now I suppose I can just call his new home. And it's been over a day.
I was going to ask if he needed anything else, but then simply nodded and said, "There you go!" with a pat on his backseat.
I then procceeded to complete my original goal of ordering my coffee. The barista gave me a strange look as he then filled my coffee cup, one that asked, "are they related or something?"
No. No we were not. But I did wonder what it would be like if I yelled, "See ya later, Dad!" before waltzing on out of the place. It probably would've been better than simply leaving without another word after bringing a homeless man inside, which is what I did. Sure, I did one of them a favor, but I'm not so sure if management approved of my good gesture. Then again, maybe it was just a push on my part to better society. Or not. I don't know. I kind of just wanted a cup of coffee.
In any case, you have a nice homeless man to take care of now Starbucks. Somebody give that guy a latte or something.