Friday, August 28, 2009

So, I'm a thief. . .

Not long ago on a Monday evening after work, I broke into the Central Dallas Food Pantry.

Big time no-no, I'm telling you.

Place was locked up tighter than a drum.

No staff.

No interview process.

No forms to document output or outcomes.

Just me, using my key to get inside the food storage area after hours.

Total disregard for policy, protocol and process.

So, I'm a thief.

The saga began when I noticed an extremely skinny, as in skin and bones, Willie Nelson looking fellow climbing out of one of the trash dumpsters back of our building.

In his hands he cradled a discarded mess of shredded cabbage packed in a plastic bag.

Must have been near 100 degrees. No telling what the expiration date read on the package.

I approached him and introduced myself.

"Where did you get the cabbage?" I asked.

"Out of your trash," he replied.

"I just got out of the hospital this afternoon and I'm not doing so good," he added. "My stomach is hurtin' something awful."

"Gee, I'm sorry to hear that," I said, wondering what his plans were for the evening.

"Could you get me a few cans of food from inside?" he asked.

"Inside"--there's the term. After hours everyone who comes by because their hungry knows that "inside" is where the relief is to be found.

"Sure," I declared without much thought.

Immediately, an internal conversation got underway in my head, as I reviewed our "rules and regulations" about how to use and access the Food Pantry.

The way I figured it, I was in violation of about 100 rules and procedures.

The word "thief" rose up in my throat. I quickly pushed it back down and encouraged my new friend to follow me.

He rode a bicycle weighed down with plastic bags filled with soft drink cans for recycling. Guys like this keep our neighborhood cleared of all such trash.

"You can park your bike inside the back door and we'll go up and around back down to the Food Pantry," I laid out our plan of attack.

Luckily my keys worked! I've done so little in this part of what we do over the past many years that I wouldn't have been surprised if they had changed the locks on me. The Food Pantry was our only hope since I was flat broke!

The door opened and we were in!

I had to urge my buddy to fill up two shopping bags.

"I don't want to be greedy," he told me.

Now the guy is flat killing me.

"No chance of that here," I reassured him.

He told me that he had a small trailer parked over on Good-Latimer in South Dallas, so he wasn't without a roof over his head.

"I sure wasn't looking forward to that cabbage!" he exclaimed.

He finished packing away the loot and we made our escape.

No one saw us.

But, I had to get it off my chest.

We broke several rules, I'm sure.

I just can't stand seeing a man fishing "food" out of our trash.

Maybe I'll throw myself on the mercy of the court!


rcorum said...

One reason why I read your blog every day is that you challenge me to see each person as a child of God. I think you will be forgiven for your crime:)

Anonymous said...

So often our good intentioned programs and policies get in the way of helping people. It's good to break the rules once in awhile.

I can just imagine: "sorry sir, you'll have to come back in the morning during office hours, if you survive the night."

Lee said...

Reading the comment from Anonymous reminded me of Justice Keller's "we close at 5:00", only the guy did not survive the night. Larry, as always, you did the right thing.

Cody said...

It came to mind that "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Also, rules schmules.

Anonymous said...

But wasn't it wrong to help him at all? You simply should have yelled at him, "get a job -- go to work. You don't deserve any handout..."

That is what some would say. And, at least in America, it seems that we are devolving into two camps that cannot even understand each other: one camp without a heart, the other driven by the heart. I much prefer the world driven by the heart.

Thanks for the story...