The other weekend, my wife and I pulled up to a stoplight a few feet back from a young man holding a sign that read: “Homeless & Hungry.”
He looked to be about our age, maybe a few years younger. His jeans were ripped at the knees.
He was smoking a cigarette. I remember thinking, “If he can afford cigarettes, he can’t be doing too bad.” And because he was also clean shaven, I started wondering if he was really homeless or not.
The light turned green.
As my wife and I started driving, I looked at the young man. We made eye contact, and then he turned his head away from me.
I won’t soon forget the look in his eyes. Shame. Sadness.
Any doubts I had disappeared, and suddenly I felt guilty. Guilty for thinking the worst of people. Guilty for not stopping and doing something.
Guilty for not taking him to dinner or asking him what he needed.
Because while I work hard for my money, I’ve also been very lucky. I have great parents and a wonderful, supportive wife. I’ve had some amazing opportunities in my life, and I realize not everyone is as lucky.
But I also wonder, if I could go back and relive that moment again, would I actually do anything different?