Have you ever come across something that made you pause and just stare and then wonder? It was so comical that you giggled…a lot. And then, in the aftermath you realized that the reality wasn’t really that funny and really a bit sad?
I took my kids to the library last night for more movies and books. While waiting for the library clerk to check out our selections I noticed her glancing uneasily over towards the adult public computer stations and rolling her eyes. Curious, I followed her gaze. Here sat this heavy set man at one of the computers fast asleep. His mouth was hanging open catching imaginary flies with a trail of drool hanging down to his chest. All of a sudden he jerked, and his body reeled towards the computer monitor coming inches from smacking his noggin and braining himself. Before his head crashed, he let out an earth shattering snore that shook the otherwise quiet library before jerking the other way and coming inches from hitting the floor literally suspended in mid- air. He snorted…LOUD and just hung there. I elbowed my oldest and we exchanged glances. “My money says he falls flat…soon!” She looked at me, I looked at her, and then we looked at my son. The giggles started bubbling under the surface and then erupted like a volcano. I could barely contain myself as we made a beeline for our car. Once safely inside my car, I laughed so hard that I cried. My laughter was infectious, and we all laughed. Seeing a grown man sleeping in public jerking about in such a way was so unexpected and well, funny!
Pulling onto the highway I marveled that if a person was that flipping tired, why go to the library in the first place? Why not stay home and go to bed? I certainly wouldn’t rush out in public where I was sure to make a complete ass of myself!! Then I was struck by another thought…maybe he is homeless! It is cold outside. If I had nowhere to go, I would head to a public place where I could stay warm at least until they closed and I had to move on. It was when I pulled into my driveway and let myself into my warm home that I began to feel sorry for him and even felt grateful that I didn’t share his fate. How awful it would be to be homeless, cold, and maybe even hungry. Of course, maybe he was just tired. Maybe he had a long day and had an urgent need to use the computer at the library. I mentioned to my kids that maybe the library was the only place he had to go to get warm and feel safe enough to sleep. Maybe, just maybe he had nowhere else to go.
The giggles that so completely engulfed us before became a memory as we all contemplated that little tidbit. I am sure; if I were him the last thing I would want is someone’s pity no matter how much help I needed to survive. Of course, if I was that desperate to find a warm, safe place, I probably wouldn’t care at that point what the hell other people thought. I would simply feel blessed to have somewhere to be where I could be warm and safe if only for a little while. Whatever his situation and place in life, I am sure he is doing the very best he can and I wish him well. You can never truly understand another person’s motives unless you have walked in their shoes.