An older man sits on the side of the highway holding a sign that says “hungry please help. ” A man sitting a few cars ahead of you in a white BMW throws a can of soda at the old man and yells “get a job! ” Another car cautiously gives the man some change, and the old man replies by saying “God Bless You! ” As I pull forward I tell the man to meet me at the gas station just across the road and I will buy him some dinner. He is extremely grateful and slowly makes his way across the road. We both go in the service center and I allow him to get what he needs.
We both pick several items and then I pay for them at the counter. The older man thanked me a thousand times and made his way to front door to sit just outside and enjoy his dinner. I follow him and sat down right next to him on the sidewalk and begin eating my dinner beside my new acquaintance. He began the conversation with telling me his name is Jerry Blackmore. We sat and chatted for about 10 minutes all the while several people we giving both of us dirty looks as they walked in to the service station.
Finally Jerry started telling me about his life. Jerry was once an insurance agent, he stated his family and he lived in the nice part of town in a huge home, and he was earning close to $90,000 per year in wages. Jerry stated he had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl that were just a year apart. Jerry told me he and his wife were about to celebrate their 15 year anniversary when tragedy struck and changed his life forever. Jerry stated he pulled a late night a work and then got stuck in traffic on his way home.
He stated they were hiring a babysitter for the night because the wife and he were going to go out to dinner. Jerry stated he will never forget being so worried because he was running about an hour late and really wanted to give his wife the gift he bought her. He stated he knew something was wrong as soon as he turned the corner towards his home. With tears in his eyes he told me there were police cars all over the road and 3 ambulances, all parked right in front of his home. Jerry got out of his car and as fast as he could ran towards his home, towards his family.
When he got close a police man stopped him and sat him down. He would not allow Jerry to go into his home. The police man told Jerry that a terrible thing had happened. Just then Jerry seen the babysitter they hired for the night standing there frozen with fear and white as a ghost, Jerry walked up to the babysitter and she began to cry. She told Jerry that when she got there the door was cracked and the alarm was going off. She stated she called 911 and went inside the home to find, Jerry’s wife and 3 children were murdered.
She stated she tried to help them but they were already dead. Jerry stated that day forever changed his life and he felt there was no life left to live. He stated he tried to pick up his life without his family and couldn’t manage. He stated he had no other family, he was an only child and his parents were long passed away. Jerry stated his work started falling apart and he wasn’t eating or sleeping, then he lost his home his car and everything he worked so hard for. Now here we both sat in front of the service stations sharing our dinner.
Jerry stated it felt so good to talk to someone about his life and to have the chance to tell his story. He thanked me again and said God bless you and your loved ones and began his journey to nowhere. In this story you hear of a rich man driving a BMW that just throws trash Jerry. Next you see a woman barely open her window to give the man money but just thirty cents in pocket change. Then you see a person open their heart and arms and give Jerry a chance to talk and eat a decent meal. Here are three examples of how the view of a homeless man asking for food can be viewed so differently.
I asked several family and friends if they would have done the same that I did with Jerry that day at the service station. My sister stated she would have been more like the woman by giving Jerry her change. She stated she is always very nervous of homeless people because you never know what they may do to get money from a woman that is alone in her car. My sister Jennifer also stated that you hear so much on the news about a woman getting mugged and rapped because she was trying to be generous to a stranger.
She stated religiously she wants to help the old man but too scared by horror stories to do so in a more and open way. When asked how my sister would react to the old man after I told her his life story, she stated she would have done the same as me and possible offered a shower and fresh clothes as well. She stated his story opened her eyes to how people can be judged without their full story. My brother Max stated he would have been like the guy in the BMW, he stated most of the “homeless” people you see make tons of money every day just by pretending they are hungry.
He stated they will also just go out with the money he worked hard for and buy beer and drugs instead of food. He stated he supports the people who live on welfare and that is all he will do. He stated the old man could work for a fast food chain and make money and then he wouldn’t need to hold the sign. When I asked my brother how he would have reacted to Jerry after he knew his story, my brother felt like a fool. Max stated he shouldn’t have judged the old man so quickly and maybe he shouldn’t judge anyone so quickly and maybe give them a chance or offer a helping hand.
My husband stated he would have done the same as I did. He stated God says in the bible to help those that are less fortunate than you and to care for others. My husband stated there are many personal reasons, the way he was raised in a poor home with less than all those around him as well as the way his parents taught him to be humble, caring as well as giving. When I asked my husband if he would have done the same after knowing Jerry’s life story and he stated he would have went a step or two further.
He stated he would have taken Jerry to a diner to eat and chat over coffee, and then he would have given him money and paid for night at a hotel, providing Jerry would accept. There are so many different ways someone could view this situation. Many homeless men and women sleep for the night under benches or highways and we never really think a lot about them. Just knowing Jerry’s life story will forever change my life. How many Jerry’s have you passed on the side of the road and you never stopped to think, who is that person really?