I absolutely hate driving. When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to have my own car so I could drive everywhere: to the mall, to the movies, to my nonexistent boyfriend’s house – wherever my little heart desired. I even stole my parents’ car (on multiple occasions) to drive around my hometown like I was the baddest thing behind wheels (yes dad, the hole in the bumper was my fault – sorry!)
Anyways, I absolutely hate driving now (almost as much as I hate healthy eating) and will do anything to avoid it at all costs. So when my boss asked me to meet with her, an hour away from where I live (that’s with no traffic), one Wednesday morning you already know I was dreading it. Atlanta traffic is the absolute worst! You could leave an hour and a half early, and STILL be late because it’s THAT bad. I wish I was kidding.
So Wednesday morning rolls around and I’m seriously so annoyed at everything. Annoyed that I have to get up early. Annoyed that I have to get dressed. Annoyed that I have to put gas in my car. Annoyed that I have to sit in traffic. Annoyed that I left my breakfast on the counter because I was rushing. And annoyed that the navigation on my phone was draining my battery. You name it, I was annoyed by it.
After sitting in what seemed like 12 hours of traffic, I finally met up with my boss and we got into her car to run errands.
Great, I guess I’ll just spend my whole day in the freaking car.
We ended up getting off on the wrong exit (also annoying) and we saw a homeless man sitting on the ground at the light holding onto an old beaten up Bible with a sign that said, “Homeless. Please Help. God Bless.” My boss, being the amazing woman that she is (and obviously way nicer than me), rolled down her window to see if he needed anything.
Seriously? We’re already running late and I’m so ready to get out this car. Do we really have to do this right now? (super shallow of me, I know. Don’t worry it gets worse -smh at myself)
My boss apologized to the homeless man for not having any cash, asked him for his name and if he needed anything. He told us his name is Ken and that someone just brought him McDonalds. He thanked us and said “God bless.” The light turned green and we continued on our way. My boss (obviously still concerned with Ken) asked me to check her purse to make sure she really didn’t have any cash. Annoyed, (obviously my favorite emotion at the moment) I do so and happened to find $42. She quickly made a u-turn to meet up with the man again.
I guess we won’t be making our 10:00 am appointment!
She rolled down her window and yelled his name about three times before she finally caught his attention. He came over to the car, took the $42 and asked us if we could meet him at the RaceTrac across the street. Cheerfully, my boss agreed.
Really?! We are already 30 minutes late! We have about five million other things to do on our to-do list! Why can’t Ken just take his $42 dollars and go on about his day! This is ridiculous. (Bare with me, I get better – I promise)
We pulled into the RaceTrac wondering what in the hell else this homeless man could possibly want (at least that’s what I was thinking). A few minutes later Ken appeared in front of the driver’s side window. This was my first time really looking at him. He had on a dirty dark blue collared shirt which was about two sizes too small, old torn up jeans, a red hat that he wore backwards, blond curly shoulder length hair and no front teeth.
My boss rolled down her window. Ken reached out to shake our hands and asked what our names were (I have to admit, I was hesitant to touch him – but I did so anyways).
Ken talked for what seemed like 45 minutes. And it was the most enlightening 45 minutes I’ve had in a long time. He thanked us for the $42, but what he really thanked us for was our time. Something that I, so selfishly, didn’t want to give. He also thanked us for our kindness. Something that I, so selfishly, lacked that day.
He was of such high spirits. He laughed and smiled the whole time. He told us stories and he shared with us how blessed he was because he woke up that day – and that’s all that mattered to him.
Here I was, complaining about little things like having clothes to put on my back, a car to put gas in, a job worth sitting in traffic for, money to go buy breakfast and a working phone. All things that Ken did not have. But how was it that he was happier than me? How was it that even though he’s the one sitting in the hot sun asking strangers to help him survive, that he can see how blessed he is? And yet, I’m sitting in an air conditioned car complaining…
Ken wasn’t trying to teach me anything that day. But he did. He was placed in my path that Wednesday for a reason and I believe it was to remind me to be thankful for the little things that we sometimes take for granted. It’s so easy to complain about things that we have access to everyday. If everyone just took one moment to look around, we would find so many things that we are fortunate to have that others are not.
Ken also taught me that sometimes the one thing you don’t want to give may be the one thing that someone needs most. He was the one with the sign asking for help, but I was the one who really needed it that day.
We drove past that same exit a few more times. I saw his sign and his bible, but I didn’t see him again. I’ve thought about him every day since & I pray for him daily. I can only hope that we cross paths again in this lifetime so that I can thank him in person. But until then, thank you for your kindness Ken. You have forever left an imprint on my heart.