Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I Wish I Knew His Story
Wednesdays are typically very busy days for my kids. After I pick the kids up from school, we go to Jackie's physical therapy appointment which is about a half hour drive each direction. Since the kids have AWANA on Wednesday nights, we get dinner somewhere close to the church before AWANA. Tonight was no exception and we ended up at one of our favorite places, Chick-Fil-A.
While we were sitting, I noticed a young man with a dog sitting at one of the tables outside of the restaurant. I noticed a lady talking to him and letting him use her phone. I was sitting with a friend and her kids. Finally, knowing how much my friend also likes dogs, I told her to look outside. We both wondered what his story was.
Noticing how young this man is and how his dog had a thick heavy rope for a leash and a too-big harness for a collar, my heart broke for this pair. Suddenly, I remembered that I had a bag full of leashes, collars, and dog brushes in my van. I had recently bought them on clearance very cheap and was going to donate them to an animal shelter. I told my friend to watch my kids while I went out to the van to see what I could offer this young man. Thankfully, I had a matching leash and collar in just the right size for the dog and I also grabbed one of the brushes. I came back inside the restaurant to join my friend for a few moments so I could gather the courage to go back outside and present the items to the homeless pair. When I came out, the lady got up and went inside the restaurant. I then told the man that I wanted to give him the leash and collar because it would be easier to use than using the rope. I was able to talk to him for a few moments and found out that his name is Ethan and his dog's name is Bridget. Bridget is 3 years old and is a very sweet, well-mannered dog. The love Ethan has for his companion was so evident. Despite their situation, Bridget seemed to be well cared for and in good health. Ethan told me that he was traveling from Colorado to the Shawnee National Forest. He then told me that he was originally from Pennsylvania. I noticed on the table behind him that he is traveling with a guitar, a huge duffel bag, and what I'm assuming is his bedroll. I just felt so strongly that Ethan is not your typical street person begging on a street corner. He didn't reek of alcohol or cigarettes. He just smelled like he hadn't showered in 3 or 4 days. He was a bit thin, too. I offered him an extra coupon I had for a free sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. I also offered him a little bit of money that I had in my pocket. He refused at first saying that he has some money. Before I could even think about it, I asked him how much to which he responded $45. I told him to take the money to buy food for Bridget. He quickly showed me that he had food for her but it was a small amount, perhaps enough for another 3 days. I nearly begged him to take the money to buy food for when Bridget runs out. I don't care if he uses it for himself or for Bridget. I was just glad that I was able to finally convince him to take the money. I wished Ethan luck on his journey and told him that I would say a pray for him. After I petted Bridget one last time, I went back inside to join my friend and the kids. Meanwhile, the lady who Ethan had been talking to earlier, went back out there to join Ethan (she was also a kind stranger to Ethan). It then started to rain a little bit and I watched as the restaurant employees went out there to retract the umbrellas at the tables. All, except the one that held Ethan's worldly goods. I don't care what the critics may say, most Chick Fil A employees have hearts of gold. They could very easily have told Ethan tough luck and then proceed to retract the umbrella over him. But they didn't.
My heart breaks for people and animals like Ethan. I don't typically give money to homeless people. I'll give them food or some other essential. I just felt very strongly that Ethan was different. He's so young and soft-spoken and he seemed so humble. And his reluctance reassured me, in a way, that he was going to do his best to use whatever money he had wisely.
I'm such a sucker when it comes to homeless people and their animals but today's encounter left me humbled. And feeling sad. But it also made me happy to see Bridget sporting a brand new matching collar and leash. I wish I knew Ethan's story. If I had the time earlier this evening, even though it would be outside of my comfort zone, I would have sat with Ethan and Bridget to learn more about him and how I can help other people in his situation. Please keep this pair in your thoughts and/or your prayers for a safe journey.