I bought lunch for The Card Collector at Kentucky Fried Chicken again the other day.
He told me about the $25 a night hotel he’d stayed in the night before. “It was nice because I could get under the covers and press the buttons on the TV.” He showed me the key that they’d let him keep for the day under the assumption that he’d be able to get together $25 for that night. I took this as a hint and gave him enough money for the night.
He asked me to keep him company for a few minutes, so I sat and stared out the window. He talked about how things had been going, about sleeping outside, how thankful he was for what the lord above had given him, and about the job and apartment a church had promised him weeks ago.
I was feeling a little tired and stiff. When the conversation lulled, I explained that I was a little worn out and that that was why I wasn’t very talkative. As I said that, I realized how stupid it was for me to be talking about my minor discomfort to him – using the same language that he might use when describing the effects of sleeping in a doorway.
Then he told me, “I wish there was something I could say to heal your pain.”