As I Walked from the Car to the Wine Shop
As I walked from the car to the wine shop for a bottle
of pinot grigio, I was intercepted by a slim, pretty-
well-built, not yet dissipated looking fellow begging
for something, anything monetary to get him by
for a while. These guys are no dummies. They play
on the guilt of those buying booze. I’m sure it’s
better than standing outside the local Goodwill.
Unfortunately, apparently, this wasn’t his day.
Actually, before he got to me to beg a bit, I saw
two young women coming out of the store and
back off from his advance and overture. One said,
speaking for both of them, “We don’t have anything.”
I guess they spent it all on booze. He moved to the
other side of the big, welcoming sliding doors and
approached a thirty-something guy heading in who
waved him off with condescending disgust. The brush
off was a violent sweep as he entered the sanctuary
of the enveloping arms of welcome and warmth.
I could have gotten safely through those doors myself
before he approached me, but the dismissive wave of the
arm really pissed me off. Nobody deserves to be
waved off like that. The panhandler actually
blessed the guy and it sounded like he meant it. I don’t
know if maybe it is the ploy in which Fagan coached
young Oliver. I gave him a couple of bucks and you
would have thought I was Prince Rainer inviting him
off the streets of Monaco to a seven-course, royal feast.
“God bless you.” “I’m sorry that jerk blew you off. No-
body deserves that.” “It ain’t right, you know,” he said.
“I’m a vet. I served my country.” I saw his dog tag
and cross. “Thank you for your service to our country.”
“No, thank you.” I saw him panhandling when I headed
for my car. I asked him what branch he had been in.
He had six years in the Air Force and left for the
love of a woman, which lasted two and a half months.
He said he should have stayed fourteen more for
the obligatory twenty. He would have had it made.
I smelled a bit of booze, but what the hey? There
go I but for the grace of God and dumb luck. “Thank
you, sir. And God Bless,” I heard as I drove off.
I had put a Lincoln in his hand and you would
have thought I handed him the keys to the kingdom
when, in fact, he handed me the keys
for only two bucks and a fiver. Go figure.