A Cup of Hot Coffee in His Name

by | Jun 9, 1998 | Caring, Giving, God's Hands, Love

I don’t even know his name. I didn’t think to ask, our encounter was so brief. But I still remember his face, and his eyes.

It was a usual chilly morning, not much past dawn when I turned off the highway, taste buds set for a good hot cup of coffee. As I rounded the corner for the drive-up window I saw him in the distance, crossing the barren parking lot. It was foggy, damp and drizzly, and he wore only denims. He headed straight to the dumpster but found it within it’s own fortress, locked behind tall gates.

I hastily ordered an extra cup of coffee and a couple of breakfast sandwiches, hoping he hadn’t gotten too far. As I pulled around, my gaze scanned the area until I saw him, on the far side by the shopping mall. I wondered where he might be heading now.

As I pulled up along side, I lowered my window and called out ‘Hey son’, and told him I’d brought him a little breakfast. His humble reply surprised me, “No, you keep that, you bought it for yourself.”

“Oh,” I said, “I got some for myself, too. This is for you.”

He hesitated as he came up to the car to take the steaming cup and small bag and seemed obligated to answer a question that hadn’t been asked.

“I’ve been working the carnie,” he said politely. But I knew the carnival season was long over. His clothes bore the telltale signs of sleeping on the ground. He shivered in his thin jacket which was little comfort against the cold. He teeth had gone the way of all teeth without proper care. I thought of my twice-a-year cleanings, and gold crowns. His rugged face exceeded his years I thought. I was sure there were no daily handfuls of vitamins in his routine, nor routine doctor visits, nor medication for common colds or flu.

As I briefly glanced into his gentle eyes, I caught a glimpse of a tender heart, even with all that life seems to have been to him. And I thought of his mother. This was some mother’s son–her bouncing baby boy that she conceived and carried and birthed. Where was she now, I wondered. Does she know what has become of her precious son? Is she alive and does she know that he is alive, or care? I thought of my own son, still in his youth, and his sweet, tender spirit. How could I live without him? Without knowing where he was and that he was well?

“God bless you.” He said.

“Thank you!” I replied most sincerely. “May the Lord bless YOU.”

He headed for shelter from the drizzle under the eave of a not-yet-opened store and disappeared from my rear-view mirror. I wished I’d bought a whole bag of sandwiches. How does this happen to a human being, that he looks for breakfast in a dumpster? Was he not able to finish school? Did he run away from home at a young age? Was he or did he feel abandoned? Did he abuse drugs and alcohol? Who’s to know? I cried all the way to work.

I now have a special envelope stuck between the car seats where I keep a small supply of gift certificates to McDonalds, Burger King and a restaurant and grocery. And when I’m driving, I keep an eye out for someone who looks like he might need a meal. It doesn’t cost much or take much effort, and I no longer have to look the other way as I pass by.

I think of him now and then and remember to pray that the Father of all would touch his life. I wish he could know how he touched mine, and changed me forever.

Submitted by Jill Burnett Jill@AtTheWell.com

I exercise common sense and due caution when passing out meal certificates, usually through a small opening in the car window (with the door locked). My husband and I and our 14 year old son live in the Pacific Northwest where I enjoy working on my website, www.AtTheWell.com and as often as possible making the hour+ drive to the ocean, one of my most favorite places on earth.


A Cup of Hot Coffee in His Name