Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Story

I have a well developed tactic when approached by panhandlers. It is so well developed, in fact, that I shift into auto pilot when a possible encounter is spied. When they slow to entreat, "Spare a dollar? or "'Cuse me, sir, any change?" I use their slowing to take a couple of quick steps to increase distance while throwing off a casual "No, not today."

Works every time.

Well, almost.

It happened a few blocks away from the office in my city's small downtown. My panhandling warning system suddenly engaged as a disheveled figured walked toward me. As we passed I felt their gaze, but the figure said not a word. I was silently thanking the gods for the painless encounter when two words stopped me in my tracks.

"Hey, Lane" the figure muttered.

I stopped and turned around. 

It was a former client, educated and well employed when I had represented them. It had been a less serious criminal charge by any metric, and had been favorably disposed of as I remembered.

The figure standing in front of me was a shell of the person I had known. They told of having fallen on hard times, and then hit me up for a couple of dollars.

I handed over a twenty, compelled to give something more than what they asked.
A year or more passed. A few weeks ago I saw them again. 

I was in the reception area of my office when I spotted them walking up the sidewalk. It seemed wrong to flee to the safety of my office. I stayed put. 

"Hey, Lane." 

I looked down to glimpse a hand with a twenty dollar bill in it. 

"I need to pay you back." 

No was not to be taken as an answer. They were working again, and though the future was unknown, it was hopeful.

Can anyone ask for more?

I shake my fist toward the heavens at the unfairness of the world. I rail professionally against those I perceive ungenerous only to to be ungenerous myself. Being the father of a non-verbal son only serves to make this hypocrisy harsher when focused in self reflective light.

But thankfully, Easter came early this year. Rebirth and redemption in the form of a disheveled but clear eyed former client, with hope for a future.

Something more, I think, than what they asked.

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