This evening I was getting some stuff out of the car and en route I passed a man singing to himself. I could tell he was homeless from his too-many layers of clothes and leathery face. We acknowledged each other with head nods and half hellos.
I swapped the stuff in the car and on my way back inside I saw he was digging through our recycling bins. Sad for sure, but a reality he'd clearly come to terms with. Because I have this confused "once burned" notion about giving directly to the homeless, even when they're not panhandling, I chose to offer him a simple evening well wish. I said "Stay warm." It's something I say all day long because I've convinced myself it's a more charming version of "Cold enough for ya?"
At hearing "Stay..." the man yanked his hand out of the bin and started to jump back. I can only imagine he's more used to hearing or expecting to hear "Stay out" than "Stay warm." He quickly processed the rest of my bizarre command and replied "Oh, thanks. You too."
It breaks my heart that I will stay warm tonight; but him, maybe, maybe not. My family's coming over tonight for our housewarming. Pizza and Pictionary all night. And this guy's out there trying to look up, find something good in the bin and stay warm.
It's hard to know what to do with that.