To the Panhandler Working Downtown

Imagine my surprise when someone who should
know told me you’re a cook in a prominent
restaurant downtown. When I watched you walk
in that restaurant with the other two I figured
you were customers. To sit at the bar and watch
you walk in and out of that kitchen is instructive.

You and your group crossed a line when you
confronted and damned a woman asking for help
down the street from the restaurant you work in.
“Don’t give her money, she’s a scam artist. She’s
actually a university student.”
After I gave her
money, you crossed a line when you yelled at me
“Move on, buddy,” as if I were in cahoots with her.

From yards away I saw how malice and anger
creased your face. Now that I know where you
work, in that prominent kitchen, I will no longer eat
there—not until you leave for work elsewhere. Your
honed, hard hatred leads me to suspect a bitter feast
seasoned with your discontent and lack of charity.

To the woman whose car ran out of gas, and who
needed money for a gas can: I was happy to give
you a spare dollar; I had one for a change. I hadn’t
seen you before, and I’m inclined to believe you.
I don’t know your name. I hope you are a student.
We should all be students, prepared to learn. Here

are some things I’m learning these days: need
is unnamed, great, unpinned. Poverty discriminates
and doesn’t. Those who need or ask for help are
marginalized and victimized. Those who ask for help
become targets for hatred, aggression and violence.
We can ask for help or give help, and be charitable.

Do take care of yourself. I wish you generous
helpings of assistance. I wish you the means in time
to give generously without confrontation or malice.

Andrew Shattuck McBride
PaPoWriMo ~ 2012 *Day 26 Poem*
October 27, 2012

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About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Andrew Shattuck McBride Writer, Can We Talk?, PaPoWriMo ~ 2012, Samples, Trail Offerings, Transformation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to To the Panhandler Working Downtown

  1. Lisa Stillman says:

    Excellent! Love the heart that this shows, Andrew.

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