For those of you that read my first blog you will know that I never did get the name of the client that Coastside Hope were helping – so, true to form, this is another story of a nameless gentleman.
On this particular afternoon I wasn’t volunteering at Coastside Hope. I was just out for a hike – actually seeing if I could track down the sea lions I could hear barking in the distance. As I passed by the office I stopped to chat to a gentleman – or more specifically, to say hi to his incredibly cute little dog. I find hiking on the coast can be a slow process, because there are so many dogs one has to stop and talk to – which, in turn, leads to long conversations with strangers who suddenly become your friends!!!!!
I’m going to take some poetic license here and call my new friend “Mike.” I sat in the sun for an hour chatting to Mike about his life. He was a Vietnam Vet who had been homeless for a number of years. He had a bike, with a little trailer, and his little pit bull pup. Mike was so grateful for everything he had in his life – even though it amounted to a bike, a trailer, a pup and a tent. Mike told me that he spent his life cycling up and down the coast – sometimes heading all the way to the far north of California, sometimes heading south. He had a buddy with him that day, but according to Mike “His friend was getting a bit old for the travelling life”( my guess is Mike himself must have been in his late 60’s) and he was planning on continuing down to Santa Cruz on his own. Our epic Coastside grapevine had told him that if he stopped by Coastside Hope we could hook him up with some food and supplies. So when I ran into him he was loading up the trailer with enough food to keep him going for a few days. I was really inspired by how grateful he was for the small things in his life, He had no anger, no resentment. He was just thankful for the bike, the tent and the pup – and to Coastside Hope for the much needed food.
Now – I have a rule that I generally do not give money to homeless folks. I have been known to buy them a bag of groceries, or give them a personal care kit that I carry in the car, courtesy of Coastside Hope, or give them info on which organisations can help them – but I rarely hand over cold, hard cash. Except on that sunny afternoon when I got to know Mike and his pup. He was so deeply grateful for everything that he had, so humble – and he had such a cute pup – that I handed over the $20 I had in my purse. I never have cash, and the fact that I did on that day was fate. If Mike decided to spend that money on a non essential item then I’m totally OK with that. But I bet he bought some dog treats!! And I got to break one of my rules – its always a good day when you break a rule in a good cause!!