Sunday, December 10, 2006
try not to be an asshole this holiday season
My friend Lindsay and I went to Santullo's for dinner last night. It's the only place I've found within walking distance that serves pizza by the slice. As we were finishing up our meal, ready to leave and head to our friend's birthday party, two of the guys working behind the counter start yelling, "HEY MAN! NO COKE! NO COKE MAN!" several times.
Startled, I turned towards the pop machine behind me to see who they were yelling at. A homeless man stood there in layers of winter clothes with headphones on over his hat. It took him several more scoldings from the punks behind the counter to realize they were yelling at him. He was holding a designated water cup--the cheap, clear, plastic kind kept next to the pop machine. Inside, the amount of Coke he had dispensed just barely covered the bottom.
The man, in a normal-toned voice level, tried explaining to the guys that the people who usually work there let him get Coke. But the music was loud, and it didn't seem like the guys working were even trying to understand what he was telling them. "ONLY WATER!" they responded.
Embarrassed for them, I turned to the man with the water cup and offered him my cardboard cup, one that he could actually fill with Coke. He was too proud to get it himself, stealing glances at the annoyed eyes behind the counter, so i got up to fill it for him.
I couldn't hear much of what he said in return because the music was so goddamn loud, but I did catch, "If i wanted water, I could get that anywhere" and went on about how he only knew one guy behind the counter, but they should all know him because he's lived across the street for five years. He motioned to an empty lot on the opposite side of North Avenue. He thanked me and went back outside.
Soon after, Lindsay and I left, and there he was outside standing beside a shopping cart filled with his belongings, including two or three large teddy bears. Again, he told us how people there should know him and again pointed to the empty lot where he lives. All we could do was nod in agreement. The three of us exchanged, "Happy Holidays" greetings and parted ways.
Now, I'm not sharing this story to get any pats on the back or "that was really nice of you"s. It's just common sense...it's not like the man stumbled in there, completely disruptive to the other diners...in fact, I'm sure no one even noticed him until the guys started yelling "NO COKE! NO COKE!" What difference does it make if you let the man have some pop for free?? This is supposed to be the season of giving, not the season of yelling at people who are less fortunate. I mean this is something we should remember all year round, but especially now, especially in the sometimes unbearable Chicago winter.
(both photos were taken on Valentine's Day '06, when it was just me and my dad for the night...i ordered us heart-shaped pizzas from lou malnati's)