Leftover Ice

By: Tina Baiter
Today we celebrated my dog’s birthday. And although she didn’t really need a new collar, we took her to the store to get one – she’s well worth the price. While leaving Petsmart we noticed a man standing beside the trash. I’d seen him many times over the years wondering one of the main roads in town. He always carried a large glass. I assumed he worked construction because he always looked hot and dirty. I labeled him a hard worker. As we drove on, I told Brandon I had always wondered what the man’s story was. Something about his walk intrigued me.As we left the parking lot, Brandon drove me to Payless. I was in search of an under $20 pair of pink shoes for a costume I will only wear once. No luck.I left the store, and there beside the trash was the man. He was watching as people walked by quickly, in and out of the stores to purchase things the really didn’t need.I too walked on. As I got in the car I watched the man, who thinking no one was looking pulled a cup out of the trash. He shook it. He heard ice. He slowly turned his back to the parking lot, bent down, and poured the ice into his own cup. Then, looking around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, he returned the cup to the trash.

My heart broke. Here I was ready to spend money on a pair of shoes to wear once, while another person was grateful to find leftover ice in the trash.

Suddenly the world changed in my eyes. No one else noticed this man. For the last 2 years I hadn’t really noticed him either.

We get so caught up in our own wants that we forget the basic needs of others aren’t being met, even in our own community.

Suddenly my small apartment feels large. That funny taste in the tap water, refreshing. The leftovers from my fridge, fit for a queen.

The $20 for the pink shoes – the man with the glass now has. I still don’t know his story, but he has sure changed mine. One day, I hope to know his story – and maybe I can repay the favor.

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