Thursday, January 30, 2014

Human Moment #80: Meeting Mr. Thompson

Caleb and I stopped at a good ole ghetto gas station late one Sunday night.  I stayed in the car, and Caleb filled her up.

A rough-looking older man walked toward us and stopped right by our car.  I didn't realize he was there until I heard him start to speak to Caleb.

"Can I ask you a question?" he said.
"Now listen.  I went up to that bar right there.  I just came from there.  I asked them for a Long Island iced tea.  I even had the money.  See!  I've got money.  I've got money right here.  But they didn't give me no Long Island.  He gave me a regular iced tea.  I said, 'This ain't no Long Island iced tea!,' and he shoved me!  He pushed me and they kicked me out of that bar!  I didn't even do nothing, and they kicked me out!  I wanna go and kick his m**f** white ass!"

By this point, I thought that maybe this man had come over to take out his anger on my guy's white ass.  Homeless people often make me uneasy, but this being late at night at a fairly deserted gas station made it extra special.

The man continued.
"I need to ask you a question.  Can I ask you a question?"
"Do you need money?"
"No, no, I've that money right here.  See, I've got ten dollas right here.  I need to ask you a question.  Was that right?"
"Was that right for him to push me and kick me out when I did nothing wrong?"

This is where it sunk in.  I realized it before Caleb did.  This man wasn't looking for money.  He needed validation.  Of all human things, he needed validation.

Caleb answered.  "Well, no.  It's not right to push anyone.  I'm sorry man."
"Right. Right.  Yeah, it wasn't right for him to push me.  Yeah.  Hey, what's your name?  Caleb?  I'm Mr. Thompson.  1957.  Nice to meet ya."

Mr. Thompson reached out to shake Caleb's hand, and then he walked away.  That was it.

I don't have Korean students to write stories about anymore, and this one brush with Mr. Thompson makes me wonder about telling stories from homeless people.  Rethinking about the whole interaction, though, makes me think about how disrespected Mr. Thompson had been at that bar just because of his appearance.  If he had friends or family, he didn't go to them, he went to the random white boy at the gas station to talk to.  I'm sure he needs people to talk to, but he also needs respect, possibly more so.

1 comment:

  1. How sad that he was treated that way based purely on his looks. And how heartbreaking that he had to seek validation from a stranger.

    x Jasmine


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