(This story: brought to you by the events of yesterday. Sorry for the delay.)
Today I wanted a tomato sandwich. BAD.
If you live in the South or have spent enough time here to be cultured into the knowledge of our ways here, you’ve probably heard of this delicious spring/summer treat. It’s really simple for me–just a slice of bread with a thin layer of mayo on top, another slice of bread with two half-inch slices of tomato on top, and then BOOM. Slap ’em together and ya got ya a sandwich!
I don’t even really like tomatoes, but every year about this time, I’ve just really GOTTA HAVE A TOMATO SANDWICH.
Last week, I bought two tomatoes because I thought I’d slice them up for this very purpose. When I brought my groceries in that night, my neighbors’ cat (who thinks he’s mine) tore apart one of the bags! Guess what was in it.
Guess what got demolished!
So anyway, I got over it.
I had just enough time during my lunch break to stop by the store on my way back to work to get tomato sandwich supplies. When I realized that, there was no turning back.
When I got back to work with my bag of stuff and began putting it all together, I realized there were no plastic cutting utensils left in the kitchen to slice my tomato. I looked through the real food utensils in another drawer and still found no knives.
Time was running out. So I grabbed a spoon and started sawing away.
It didn’t work.
So I looked both ways and literally started tearing the tomato apart with my bare hands. It was surprisingly easy! And now I have a more accurate knowledge of what a tomato really looks like on the inside. I got plenty of awkward, but fresh, tomato chunks and was able to have the delicious sandwich I had been craving. I must say, I don’t tear apart anything with my bare hands for nothing. That sandwich was GOOD.
And then I had a whole loaf of bread that didn’t even need.
Or so I thought.
I started writing this ridiculous post when I was dining in at a cozy little restaurant on my way home from work this afternoon, but after I ate and got up to leave, I put this aside to finish when I got home. As soon as I left the parking lot, I was stopped at a red light where I saw a dirty-looking, gray-haired man quickly walk through the traffic to the van in front of me. It startled me because I didn’t know what he was doing and was afraid he might be about to attack someone in the van. After all, you never know what to expect from people hanging out on the streets.
I saw him receive something from one of the passengers, go back to the side of the road where he had been standing, and with an embarrassed kind of look on his face, he held up a small scrap of cardboard that said:
Will work for food”
I usually ignore people who stand on the side of the road if I can’t tell whether they’re being honest because pulling over or rolling down a window is just not good common sense for a young woman by herself, but something was different about this situation. I wasn’t close enough to get his attention, and when the light turned green, traffic was moving too quickly for me to do anything in passing by. But as I turned toward home, I knew I would regret it the whole hour-long drive if I didn’t, so I turned around and went back.
I drove through the parking lot behind him, which faced another long line of cars at the same intersection where I had been stopped, and I slightly rolled down my window as I swerved around for him to come to my side of the car. He looked back at me when he heard me coming to a stop, and I waved at him. My heart was pounding because…let’s be real…I was in the middle of Columbus, Georgia, which I learned today has made the top 10 list of cities with the highest crime rates.
The guy walked over to my car.
“I have a bag of bread if you need it,” I told him.
I’m not sure if he thought I was a 12-year-old for a second or a business manager telling him to go somewhere else, but he finally shook his head and said, “Yes.”
As I stuffed the bread through the window, I noticed the pack of noodles in his hand that the people in front of me had given to him at the light.
“Thank you. God bless you,” he said. And he started walking back to his spot.
He was really in need.
I don’t normally talk about whatever things I do for other people because I don’t want to send anyone the impression that I’m self-righteous anything along those lines, but this completely random opportunity I had today really poked me in the heart. How many times have I backed out of things because I viewed the uncertain and unknown as dangerous or scary what ifs, rather than taking a chance because on the meaningful and impactful possibilities?
That’s not to say that I should *always* pull over for people with holding cardboard signs, but I could at least be more attentive and willing to help people (in any situation) when I see that I can.
I really hope that man finds a job. And I really hope that out of all the people at that red light who saw my car come out of nowhere and chuck out a loaf of bread, someone saw his sincerity too and realized something they could give him and found the guts to do it.
So if I didn’t learn anything new today, a least I was reminded that:
1. Tomato sandwiches are good.
and 2… God is, too.
God bless us all with opportunities to give as we have been given.