Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Security Guard Josh 2

You can read the first post here

I've always had a love for baking. It's like art. You take these raw ingredients (flour, eggs, sugar), and you turn them into a beautiful, nourishing thing. Bread, cookies, muffins, oatmeal brownies, etc.

My friend Cynthia also shares this passion, and when they showed up today to do a bank transfer, we decided to go to a supermarket for some shopping.

We headed to an Albertsons nearby. I turned in a couple Redbox movies, and then we looked for pre-made cookie dough. I would have preferred to make them from scratch, but it's much more expensive and messy. We were leaving when I caught up with some friends, and Mike and Cynthia were left to their own devices.

After the exchanging of phone numbers, Mike and Cynthia decided to buy things at the Kroger down the block.

Away we went!

As we parked in front of the Kroger, I noticed this ragged man standing across on the other side of a drive lane that divides the parking lot in two. I told Mike and Cynthia, "I think we should be careful. That guy looks suspicious."

As soon as we got out of the car, the man approached us quickly. Wearing a navy blue jacket, a blue baseball cap with red under-trim , and dark blue jeans, he said wearily, "Could you guys buy me some food?"

I looked at Mike, and Cynthia did the same. Mike broke a mini-silence by asking what specifically he wanted. The ragged man replied, "Some bread and maybe some bologna? I don't care." I huffed a little bit but Mike continued by asking the  man what kind of bologna he wanted; the man replied, "Whatever. Doesn't matter."

Again, Mike asked what specific type of bread, "What do you prefer, white or wheat?"

The man quickly replied, "White."

Mike reviewed what he wanted, and said we'd be out shortly.

On our short walk to the front entrance, I told the both of them why he had agreed to it, and that I knew my suspicions were correct.

The area where the supermarket is located is a bit of a focus point for the homeless. Next to the Kroger, there is a Family Dollar. Next to that, a plasma donation center. A daycare, a barber shop, thrift store, and a Texas DPS office take up the remaining space.

I figure most go to the plasma center to get money, since you get paid for the 'trouble' of going through the process. Free money for very little effort.

As I kept talking, the security guard, the same one from the last time, approached us.

He was on the right side of the foyer, and he asked Mike, "Did that homeless guy ask you for food?"

Mike answered affirmatively, and the guard, who I nicknamed "Josh" because of his intense likeness of my Military-bound friend, told us he had previously bought the same man food before. He said that he had bought him peanut butter, bread, and one point, bought him $10 worth of bread, hot dogs, and other stuffs. His exact words followed, "He went through all that stuff in one day."

He ended up telling us that we shouldn't buy him anything, and that he always comes to the store, either by bicycle or on foot, asking people to buy him something. Security Guard Josh said, "He's not allowed in the store because he would come in here and steal things. If you buy him anything, it's just a waste of your money."

I exclaimed, "See guys, you should take everything with a grain of salt."

We thanked Security Guard Josh and left to find the drinks and the cookie dough.

We got a drink (which we later left behind), and while we were there, Mike got a loaf of bread for the homeless man, against what SGJ had told us. Mike asked me if he should get it, and all I said was, "If you want."

"It's only .88 cents" he said.

While looking at the selection of pre-made doughs, the three of us talked about the religious aspects of helping out our fellow human beings. Mike made a pretty great argument for it, and so did Cynthia, but I was against it. Only reason was because if it's not food, it's money, which they go spend on either alcohol or drugs.

In 2010, I came out of that Family Dollar to a homeless man asking for change. All I had in my pocket was .15 cents, so I offered him a bag of peanuts I had bought for myself. When given the choice, the man took the change instead. I exclaimed to M&C, "What kind of hungry person turns down peanuts for fifteen-cents pocket-change?"

M&C grabbed a package of peanut-butter chocolate chip dough (the same kind we had picked at Albertson's) and we headed towards the meat section, where Mike grabbed a $1.99 package of Bar-S bologna.

As we headed to a Little Debbie display, I told M&C that I was paranoid the man was going to hurt us if we didn't bring him his items. I said, "What if he has a gun or something?" M&C took interest, but I think they blew off my suggestion.

Once at the Little Debbie display that was located near the bread, M&C chose brownies. At that time, SGJ walked up and approved, "Good choice!"

On the other hand, my pleas for oatmeal cream pies were completely ignored. Woe is me!

Mike showed off the loaf of bread and bologna, to which SGJ said something about, but I don't remember what he said. He told us that he had gone out there and that the man had walked towards the Family Dollar next door. I thought, "Thank God he's gone."

As we walked to the self-checkout lines, SGJ chatted with us, and in the end, persuaded Mike to put the bread and bologna into a returns cart. As the line formed, I asked SGJ if would escort us to the car, and he said it wouldn't be any trouble at all.

He walked to where I had first seen him a month ago while Mike and Cynthia stood in line.

I was thirsty, so I ran back towards the drinks and grabbed a Big Red.

M&C still hadn't checked out by the time I had gotten back, so we checked out, and headed towards the car, led by SGJ.

As we walked out the doors, I was relieved that we hadn't seen the man yet. But as soon as we got three cars close to Mike's car, I noticed the man standing in the place we had seen him when we first arrived.

Security Guard Josh yelled to him, "You need to get off the premises!"

The homeless man screamed back, "Let me get my supper, man!" He crescendo'd to "man".

SGJ told him again, sternly, "You need to leave the property immediately!"

This time, the homeless man quickly walked over to Mike's car, screaming, "Let me get my food, man!" Again, he crescendo'd to "man".

As he walked, SGJ put his arm up in front of the three of us, stopping us a foot in front of the car. Mike and Cynthia were in front, and I was behind them. Both Mike and me put our bags behind our backs. In my mind, I thought that if the man attacked us or SGJ, I would use the 2-liter bottle of soda I had bought as a weapon.

It was the heaviest object we had on hand.

The man was now only three feet from SGJ when Mike told him we didn't buy his things because we didn't have enough money.

He calmly said, "OK" and walked away from us, towards a major street.

My heart was racing, and I'm pretty sure Mike and Cynthia's were too.

As the man walked away, I murmured, "Fuck. Shit."

As we got into the car, we thanked SGJ for the escort, and he said, "You're welcome."

We drove away, trying to process what the hell had just happened.

A few minutes later, in front of my house, we talked in his car about it. I felt bad for saying that I wouldn't have bought him the items, but I explained, as I did in the store, that I will help my fellow human being, but not when it's not guilt-provoked.

I'm willing to help, but don't force me into it.