Yesterday morning I went in to the Caribou Coffee shop next to the grocery store where I like to shop.
I thought it would be fun to get myself a holiday coffee drink.
I was at the counter, ready to order, when a sight off to the side in the shop caught my eye.
A guy was sitting very hunched over with his hat pulled down over his face.
He had two small rolling carts with him, tucked on either side of the lounge chair where he was dozing.
The carts were full of soiled looking stuff...junk maybe...and blankets...I don't know, but stuff that made you pretty sure that this guy was living on the street.
His ankles were bare, he was a white guy I could see.
That made me think that at some point in my brother's slow demise he must have looked like this guy.
This guy could be my brother if he were still alive. If he hadn't died last year at sixty-two, in a hospice center for indigent people, dying from heart and lung related complications that could have been treated and managed if he could have been sane enough to get help, to want help.
I was still thinking about the guy when I spoke to the nice young man who was in charge of taking my order.
I ordered my drink and then I asked if they knew anything about the guy with the hat pulled down.
The young man said, "Yeah, he's been coming in every day for a while now. We give him a free coffee. We always give him a coffee and we let him sit over there."
I asked how long he sits there and the young man answered, "well, yesterday it was really cold so he sat there pretty much the whole day."
I asked if he orders anything to eat.
The young man said, "No. I don't think he has any money."
I said, "I want to buy him something to eat."
The young man's face lit up.
I said, "What should we get him?"
The other guy behind the counter got excited then and we all started looking at the menu up on the wall.
The other worker guy recommended the sausage and cheese egg sandwich.
He thought that was the biggest and had the most calories.
I said to the young man, "Okay, do you think he'll like that one?"
The young man said, "Oh I think He's gonna love it! I love that one!"
So I had him add it to my bill.
It cost like four dollars and fifty cents.
I thought about telling them all about my brother and how he died last year just before his birthday on December 5th.
I decided that would just bring the whole thing down.
As it was, it was just a fun, crisp interaction.
The young man asked the other worker if they should serve it on a plate or to-go.
The other worker said, "On a plate. So he knows he doesn't have to leave."
I almost cried.
I just smiled and nodded.
I asked the young man, "Can you wake him up and give it to him? Are you afraid to wake him up?"
The young man said, "Yeah I can do it. I'm not afraid. He's a nice guy. He's gonna be so happy."
I said, "Okay, good luck. I hope he likes it."
I took my drink in a to-go cup and I left for the grocery store.
I knew it was much better this way.
I never saw the guy's face and he didn't see me.
To me he was my brother.
He is my brother.
He is our brother.
God bless us, every one.