"CAN I BUY YOUR APPLE. I WILL GIVE YOU A DOLLAR FOR IT. I HAVEN'T HAD ANYTHING TO EAT. I AM REALLY HUNGRY." THE MAN WHO WANTED MY APPLE APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE AND SPOKE VERY FAST TO ME.
I was walking in my own little world, between classes today, munching on this apple before teaching another class in the dodgy end of South Minneapolis. I had already made my way almost half way through this apple. The man looked disheveled. "Are you serious?" I asked, "you want to eat my half-eaten apple?" He really did. I gave it to him, wishing so bad that I'd had another, a fresh un-bitten apple in my purse, but I didn't.
I walked away, leaving the man with my apple. He was already busy eating what was left of it.
Personally, I'd say that I might eat a half-eaten apple left by one of my children. But that's it. I wouldn't even eat my mom's half eaten apple let alone the half-eaten apple of a random stranger. Or maybe I would. If I were hungry enough. Downtrodden enough. Believing enough that begging for a half-eaten apple is what it takes to get an apple.
After class I got in my car to drive home, sweet home, in my safe neighborhood where my kids were waiting for me to cook them burgers but as I sat in a bit of traffic by the Franklin entrance to E94, I noticed an older man next to a shopping cart that held a couple of dirty, ragged blankets. He was wearing a prominent cross around his neck and looked completely resigned. No cardboard sign asking for money, stating the obvious: homeless, poor, forgotten by society. Just sitting there alone by his shopping cart.
I rolled down my window and I reached into my purse and told my fingers to pick the right bill. I knew I had 1's, 5's, 10's and 20's in there. My fingers picked a $10 - I was a bit relieved that it wasn't a $20 because $20 felt like a lot - he hobbled over to my car window and I gave him the bill. He just stood there next to my car, and looked, and held my gaze in a way that made me want to cry my heart out for the state of the United States where people live like this, right under our noses, where we are debating whether minimum wage should be a living wage or not or whether people like this man should receive food stamps or not.
Then he sat back down by his cart and pulled out a pill bottle, opened it up and took out a slim roll of bills, 1's from what I could see, and he added the $10 bill to the roll. I wanted to change my mind and do it over. I wanted to give him a $20, or more, or make him some food, or find him a place to live. But then the car behind me honked and I rolled onto the freeway and I drove back to my home where I cooked burgers for my kids.