I saw him sitting on the curb
Cardboard sign in hand
Scraggly hair
Poor clothes
Dirty backpack at his side
Broke and Ugly
The sign read

I was in my new Prius
Stopping to get ice cream
From McDonald’s
Celebrating the purchase of a used truck
My husband drove in behind me
And parked

I looked over my shoulder
Thinking how grateful I was
To be able to get ice cream
Whenever I wanted

There was a time when I could not
I had to look along the road
And the trash cans for bottles to turn in for cash
For beans and rice
For my young son and myself

I had so many second, third and fourth chances in life
I made mistakes, but forced myself to get back up,
To get it right, to get it back on a path I could choose
Oh, and I had help, lots of help

So when I asked Mike for some cash
He asked if I was going to give it away
And I said yes.
Together, we walked over to the curb
The man stood up
Cleaned himself off
He was young
And motioned to stay to two dogs in the shade
We talked a bit and he said the Ugly on the sign
Was just an attempt at humor
I stroked the dogs and talked gently to them
They wagged their tails and leaned against me.
We left with this man saying thank you
He said, “You don’t know what it means.”
I thought,

Yes, I did.

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