As I paid for my hot cup of coffee at the 7-11 located on the first floor of our CityWalk @Akard building, I noticed one of the checkout clerks eyeing a homeless man who had just exited the store. The clerk's expression could have cut steel.
The homeless man left the store and took a seat on the edge of the fountain wall just outside the door to rest a moment and drink his coffee.
I heard the clerk tell his partner at the cash register, "Call the police."
At some point during the engagement between that clerk and the homeless gentleman, the latter held up proof of payment or the other clerk informed his suspicious partner that the coffee had been paid for. I didn't understand that was what had happened until I left the store and talked to the man. He assured me that he had paid for the coffee.
I noted as we spoke that he was shivering uncontrollably in the sub-freezing weather.
I'm sure the clerk had experience to back up his concern about the man, the coffee and the business of buying and selling and not paying.
But there was more going on in those few moments.
I know disdain when I see it. I can feel disgust when it is focused so clearly on another.
The entire incident made me sad.
What would it be like to be so poor, so broken, so abandoned that others could immediately judge you as not worthy of common human decency or respect?
What would living beneath that ever-present stigma be like?