Cans

 

Presumptions were made on my part 

as you approached me, I noticed

your gold colored t-shirt that was worn backwards;

dirt stains splattered across your pants and the back side of your shirt

led me to think that your daily walk was street-held.

 

I stood at the cash register, 

as you came in the wooden double doors

Your approach towards the counter brought a look of hesitation, 

a reluctance encompassed your walk filled pace.

“Do you have a black marker I can borrow?

I have some words to write on a box.” 

 

It is not unusual to see one, maybe two, maybe three

pairs of hands on nearby street corners with a cardboard sign

each pleading for coins to get through the day, the week, the month, 

marker-ed scribbling

voice the words that the hands and heart need.

 

I hadn’t seen you on the corners before

Your dirt stained hand stretched out to mine

A black marker was left, help you did find.

“Please make sure you bring it back.”

 

Through a pane of glass I watched…a world away,

as you decided what words you needed to say. 

Your hand moved from corner to corner 

leaving lettering that I couldn’t read.

 

Back through the doors you came, 

A different walk, not the same. 

A smile and assurance written on your face

A young man on a mission, a young man knowing his place.

 

Handing me the marker, with an outstretched hand,

You voiced a “Thank you.”  and turned and continued 

to attend to what your heart did demand 

 

Hours passed, my shift ended

The marker request, not forgotten, but put aside 

until I saw that gold t-shirt across the way,

in the middle of a lot where cars park 

in the middle of the day.

No window pane, no worlds distant and far away.

 

I drove closer,  to see where your box might be,

it wasn’t there. 

Did you change your mind about what others should hear and see?

As I inched closer, you bent down 

picking discarded candy wrappers and plastic cellophane  up off the ground.

White plastic bag, in your hand, the contents was clear to see

As the weight of your bag showed your work, your mission, 

Your heart called that day …your current destiny

 

I started to go and wondered if you were hungry

or why it might be that you chose to clean  a parking lot of its debris.

Was someone paying you?

Wouldn’t standing at the corner with your scribbled words

be easier on such a hot day?

I rolled down my window and asked

“Where’s your box, the one where you needed to write upon,

did it not work, is it gone?”

 

With that reassured smile you stated,

 “Oh yes, it works just fine, 

it’s over there on the corner

where those who feel the need,

 can drop cans in it and keep the streets litter free.

Isn’t it sad, how careless people can be? 

I put some rocks inside the box, so it wouldn’t blow away…please know I’ll take the rocks out, 

when I pick the box up at the end of the day. ”

 

A lump in my throat, tears welled up inside

As I listened to you, while you stood there in those dirt stained clothes

with only your heart to display and confide.

 

I asked, “Are you hungry, are you doing ok?”

You hesitated with reluctance and a smile, 

“I’m ok for now, for a little while.”

 

I reached into my change holder and and pulled the few dollars that were there

I took them out and handed them to you, 

wanted you to know that someone noticed and cared. 

“Well, thank you for cleaning up the parking lot, when others are careless and don’t think about what they do.

Here’s a little something to perhaps take a break and get a drink for you.”

 

You stretched out your hand,

A little dirtier than before

Your face lit up and your words took me by surprise,

“If it’s ok, I’d like to go buy another box

to put on this other side. 

People need  a place to put their trash so they don’t 

clutter up the outside.”

 

We talked for a few minutes more, 

I left you to your work,

I realized…you were fed with God’s heart given chore. 

I drove away, feeling somewhat ashamed

Of presumptions made,  and not doing enough

asking myself, what I could do, 

what more?

 

The wheels of my car turned as I crossed the parking lot, 

past a man who stood at the corner with cardboard in his hand,

tears fell, 

as I knew what my heart did command.

 

I pulled over and looked for my wallet

did I have any more cash that I could give,

Do I give it to the man with cardboard in his hand 

Or the young man with a heart command. 

 

It was then, I saw the gold colored t-shirt, 

walking up to Walmart with his debris filled sack.

Depositing his bag into the can left outside the doors, 

He disappeared….went inside…perhaps a box…a drink  to buy.

I will  wait until he comes back to finish his chores. 

 

While I waited, I drove over to the  place where a cardboard box had been placed,

I read the words scribbled from corner to corner. “Cans”

I  got out and looked inside and there were rocks strewn about and a few crushed cans that didn’t hide.

What more could I do, my heart prayed…fill his box on this day.

 

I went back to the place where I work,

to the blue recycle bin  that held aluminium cans 

Tied the bag together and 

left with what God’s heart called and did demand. 

 

Not really knowing if this was the right thing to do

but I took the bag and placed it in your box.

I smiled through tear filled eyes…oh what a surprise. 

No more words to say, 

the “more” was done on this given moment, this given day.

 

You taught me to do more than I set out to do that day

You followed a command and scribbled some words on a box

and on a woman’s heart in your own special way. 

3 comments on “Without Words

  1. Loved this story!!!! Sad, but heartwarming! 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a tale! A perfect illustration of why it is important we don’t judge others too quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

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