(First published in Common Grounds Online, February 23, 2007)
My McDonald’s gift certificate burned a hole in my purse.
I brushed passed another cup-holding, money-jingling, bundled figure in Chicago’s bustling landscape. I rounded a corner on my way back to the Hilton. A McDonald’s on my left. A homeless figure on my right.
The gift certificate grew hotter with each step further from the hooded figure and each step closer to my comfortable residence at one of the city’s most prestigious hotels.
Later that afternoon, I went for another stroll. This time, I took a different route back to hotel. It didn’t matter. He was still waiting for me. This time he was younger, paler, and sitting, rather than standing, on the curb. I couldn’t see his eyes, but the cup was the same—maybe less full.
I reached the curb. No, You said. Turn around and go back. I’m hungry. I’m cold. Can’t you tell? Turn around and meet me.