I slowed over the railroad tracks, and the uneven way the asphalt met the rail sent me bouncing in my seat. A man riding a bicycle, wrapped from head to toe in a hooded coat, peddled to a nearby dumpster.
He got off, peering into the green can. And I glanced at him trying to see if I recognized the face—but he wasn't a friend—not yet.
As I stopped at my friend's apartment to drop of a few items for some homeless folks who come by her place, I couldn't stop thinking about the man. So when I left, I made a U-turn on the side street and headed back over the tracks.
I slowed, but the lights from the approaching train sent me down the road. So I drove to a nearby McDonald's and ordered a combo meal with a burger, fries, and a drink. I proceeded to move into the neighborhood again—only to see the man on the bicycle with his small wagon filled with pieces of wire and metal.
He held the bike steady, and I slowed, rolling my window down.
He bent down, and peeked into my car. "I'm out of the way. You have room to get by."
“Wait, I have lunch for you."
“I'm not hungry. I'm good." His fingers wrapped around the handlebars, and he peddled away.
I saw another dumpster up by an old church at the next block, and thought he might make a stop at the can, to see what's inside. So I drove on, parked, and jumped from my seat, placing the meal on the edge of the dumpster. I also put a couple of scripture cards beside the drink and hurried back to my vehicle.
I waited up the road, and the man peddled to the dumpster. He got off his bike, peered my way, and watched me. And I watched him. He reached for the sack, putting it inside his little tow-trailer cart, and took the lid off the soda, taking a gulp. He slipped the scripture cards into his pocket, and grabbed the handlebars, holding his soda with one hand.
He then peddled up to my car, staying about twenty feet away. I pressed the button, opening my window. "Hi, I hope you like cheese on your burger."
He corrected me, "You can't put food out like that, it's wasteful."
I answered, "It's not wasted; I bought it for you."
“Yeah, sure. I saw how you looked at me."
“It was that get-out-of-the-way stare."
“Oh, that's not what I meant to do. That was my 'oh-he-doesn't-know-we're-friends' stare. So, let's start over. I'm Pam."
“Hmm. I'm Mac."
“Mac is a good name."
“It is, but it's not mine. I'm not so sure you need to know my name."
“Well, I'll just rename you and call you Mac."
The man twisted his head, looking for traffic, and resumed his peddling—not saying another word. And I sat there, giving him the behind-the-head prayer, asking the Lord to guide his steps.
A few blocks away, I saw Mac again and he sat on the curb eating his burger and fries. I started to turn left, so he wouldn’t think I followed him, but it was too late; Mac gave me a small wave and a nod.
So it's confirmed. Mac and I are friends. He just didn’t know he was getting me when he peddled out for a ride! And we know, the time we take in making/being a friend is never wasted!
For anyone who needs confirmation that I was stressed and distracted on this one particular day, read on. See, a phone call sent me to fretting a little and praying a lot and my mind was jumping with praying and seeking God, and asking too many questions.
By lunch, I drove to the store and picked up a few groceries and went home with them. Then the following day, I made another quick run to get a few more items for some sick family members.
When my items were inside the cart, the carry out walked out with me. And I watched my trunk open, way out in the middle of the parking lot.
As we peered inside the trunk, the young man asked, “Whoa! What is that in your trunk?”
“Oh, no! That’s apparently, melted buttered pecan ice cream. I forgot to get it out of the car at lunch yesterday!”
“That’s a mess.”
“For sure. Let’s put these things in the back seat.”
“Sure thing. It’s a good thing you have that rubber mat in the trunk. But it’s going to be sticky.”
“So true. But I had good intentions. That was ice cream for my husband.”
“He’s not going to get it now.”
I nodded. “Well, not today!”
When I left, I called my hubby and he met me at home and he took out the messy mat, and scrubbed it clean, more understanding than some spouses might be and kinder than I expected.
So for anyone going to the store with a lot on our mind, I have one piece of advice: don’t trust me with your ice cream!
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).