The man walking along the side of the street caught the attention of my wife and me. The heat index was in the low 100s. The man in black shorts, black shirt and bright fluorescent colored athletic shoes stood out for his attire, and his ink work. He was bald, and all of his scalp was tattooed; tats appeared on his arms and legs. It was hard to note any details as we drove by, but he definitely caught our attention. Minutes later, we would catch a more close view of the inkwork and the man; we would also see benevolence in action.
We were in the neighborhood of the church we attended in the past when we lived south of Houston. We would often go to the Waffle House near the church after Mass. Since we were in the area again, we decided to stop by for lunch. What we were about to witness spoke to “love thy neighbor” as much as any homily could have.
The man in black took a seat at the end of the counter. The manager asked the man what he wanted. Barely audible, the customer asked for a glass of water. “I don’t have any money, but water would be good.” Even less audible than the customer, the manager said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” A waitress brought the man a sandwich – grilled cheese, I think it was – to go with his water. While he was waiting for the sandwich, he wrote. And wrote. He made his notes on a piece of paper that reminded me of a mini-scroll, about three times as long as it was wide. The manager spent time with the customer, who showed the benevolent manager some of what he had written. Their conversation continued.
As I watched the interactions, I thought of this past Sunday’s homily about the Good Samaritan. The manager provided the man comfort and sustenance on a horrifically hot day; he also provided the man attention, respect and listening.
There were only a few customers in the restaurant that day. I am not sure how many paid attention to what was happening at the end of the counter. Benevolence and love was served at the Waffle House that day.