He'd just been discharged, too late for the free Thanksgiving Day meals except for the evening one at the Mission but they won't let me in there, he said.
Not even if I offered them a donation to feed you? I asked. He said no.
I believed him because I know people who work for good organizations sometimes think they themselves can do no wrong. Sometimes a person can be banned from aid for no good reason. In his case, his identification card showed his former Reading address, so he wasn't allowed to eat or sleep at the Mission, he said.
Where would you like to eat? I asked. The Onion, he said, or the sandwich shop at Queen & James.
As we walked to the Onion he said he'd moved to Lancaster to be with his father who wasn't well. Recently his father passed away. The mortgage on the house had only $6,000 remaining, and the bank repossessed it.
I asked where he slept.
You know where the courthouse is, he asked. There's a bus shelter there with benches and a roof. That's where I sleep, he said.
He said he didn't take alcohol or other drugs but his eyes and manners had already told me that.
We arrived at the Onion but it was closed. We walked on downtown to see if a sub shop was open. It was closed too.
He noticed my limp, thanked me for walking with him, and shook my hand. He didn't ask me for money but simply left. Maybe he knew of someone else, someplace else, where he could get a meal.
I walked home. Last week I was walking with a cane. Today I can walk without it because someone cared. Caring takes so little effort yet matters a lot. It matters a lot more than interest rates and scrolling stock tickers. Our walk together was short, but maybe it helped him travel a few more steps on a rough road.