He was a big man. 250 pounds probably. Face pockmarked & rough. I sat a table over from him in the food court at the City Centre Mall. I was killing time waiting to go on CBC Radio to talk about art. I was having some fries & a coke. He was having a burrito. A tiny thing. Hardly bigger around than the big man’s thumbs. Probably one of those 99 cent things. Two bites and it was gone. He sat there for a while, staring at his hands. I ate my fries.

The people at the table on my left finished eating, stood up and walked away, leaving the bag from McDonald’s on the table. The big man immediately got up and and dumped the contents of the bag on the table. Napkins.

I reached into my coat and opened my wallet. I never do this. Don’t get me wrong. I buy the food bank packages at the grocery store. But I don’t do this. But there was something about this. This big man, eating a tiny 99 cent burrito. Maybe the only thing he’d eat that day.

I asked him if he was still hungry. He just nodded. I reached in to my wallet. A 5 and a 20. I grabbed the 5, ready to give it to him. No give him the 20. What if he buys something to drink instead of food. So what. You’re going to have drink when you get home. He may not even have a home.

I hand over the 20. He doesn’t look at me. Just the barest grunt of acknowledgment. I turn and watch as he walks to the McDonald’s kiosk. He will eat. And maybe have a beer later. Merry Christmas, sir.

And yet, as I finish my fries and walk through the food court to my interview, I’m not feeling good. Instead I’m seeing sad, hungry eyes. Everywhere. There’s twenty people there that could use a meal. More. I can’t feed them all. I tell myself at least the big man won’t be hungry tonight.

But even the next day, I can’t stop thinking about the big man and the burrito. And all the people I didn’t help.

And then as I’m driving to work, I hear the CBC morning show talk about the 20th annual Turkey Drive for the Edmonton Food Bank

I remember that they have an online auction. I can help. I can do something. Maybe not for those specific people in the food court. But for someone. Maybe a couple of dozen. I can donate a print of one of my pieces to the auction.

And you can help. Bid on it HERE. Catalog price for this piece is $250. That’s 10 turkeys. I’d love it to go for more.

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Help the Food Bank. Help those people in the food court.

Help the big man have something more to eat than a 99 cent burrito.

Merry Christmas.

Jay

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