Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Old Latino Man

About 10 miles north of Gallup, New Mexico, Matt notified us that we needed to pull over the car because of a defecated diaper. We pulled off of Highway 491 behind a dumpster at the side of the gas station. I stepped out of the minivan and transformed my seat into a diaper changing station, complete with a pillow on the console for Matt’s head. I noticed a scrawny, elderly Mexican man approach me from behind—only to be greeted with Matt’s browned-out behind. Recognizing that my attention was directed towards the messy task at hand, he excused himself and stood at the rear bumper of the van.

When I finished and replaced Matt in his carseat, he re-approached me. He carried a one dollar bill in his hands and explained in broken English that he was journeying by foot to Salt Lake City, UT. The aroma of beer on his breath was obvious. He asked if I was headed in that direction. Admittedly, I was relieved to be headed south to El Paso...but at the same time did not want to decline him a ride (not that my dear wife would have approved anyway). He then asked for help for his journey and indicated that he was hungry, pointing to his mouth.

I quickly contemplated what I should do when a couple of helpful thoughts rapidly presented themselves (paraphrased): Judge not, that ye be not judged, and do not send away any who are naked, or that are hungry…

I turned to Brenda and asked her to hand me the 2/3’s consumed bag of sunflower seed trail mix and a Ziploc bag full of Honey Nut Cheerios. I pulled out one of the two one-dollar bills in my wallet and handed him the items adding a “God bless you, Sir.” He carefully studied the items—paying a great deal of attention to the trail mix. He shook my hand with his dry, dirty hand and walked to a nearby fence post. I returned to my seat in the car and asked Brenda for a baby wipe, but she pulled out a small bottle of Purell sanitizer. Even better for this germ-a-phobe.

As we slowly pulled away from the gas station, I stole a glance out of my rear view mirror and noticed the man open the bag of mostly consumed trail mix. He began to eat. I was immediately rewarded with feelings of warmth for providing a small amount of comfort to this man. I began to think of my life of abundance and ease. I received more from that experience than the scrawny, old Mexican man. It goes down as one of the few times, more likely the only time, where I have to thank Matt for his timely blow-out.

This is not the man. I wasn't quick enough to think of requesting a picture. The real man was actually older and more scrawny, but I thought a visual might help bring light to the story.

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