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We were heading home from the car parts store

We pulled out into the right turn lane

I saw you standing at the end of the lane

…with a sign

I couldn’t read it yet

but I knew how you stood in the blazing sun

…sweating rivers down your face, eyes down, knees together, back straight

wishing to be anywhere but where you were

Hungry.  Please help.  read the sign

Hand-scribbled in black ink

on a battered piece of cardboard

As we neared, I saw myself

40 years ago, standing in the sun

with a similar sign, desperate, bewildered and scared

…wanting money to feed my young son

It didn’t matter how you got there

It didn’t matter what mistakes you made or didn’t make

We motioned toward you and put some money

in your hand

You cried when we said it was only a little bit

You said, “It means the world to us.”

Someone gave me some money that day I stood in the sun

In another year, in another place, in another time

And my son and I ate like kings on rice and beans

grateful that someone cared enough to help us.