by Andi Tauber, Stories from the Streets Co-Director
It was cold and nearing 2:00 am, and I was tired and chilled enough to be seduced by the promise of two glazed doughnuts for 99 cents. I took my time in the convenience store, pretending to not know what I wanted while my toes thawed. A couple of loud young women came in, shopping the liquor aisle. One of the employees stopped by and told them it was too late to buy alcohol. “What?!” “Too late?!” they cried. Then one of their voices grew softer: “Can’t you make an exception, just this one time?” The employee said, “Sorry,” suggested another store, and walked away.
I finally bagged my doughnuts and went to the counter. The man who was about to take my dollar pointed outside and asked, “Are you still walking around?” Surprised, I said yes, and he said, “Take all the doughnuts from the bottom shelf for the other people.”
I double-checked to make sure I understood him correctly. When I tried to thank him, he waved me off.
Gentle people, I want you to know that I did not take all the doughnuts from the bottom shelf. It was late; I didn’t think we’d run into any more guys. So I took five day-olds—one cake kind, a horribly sprinklified one, and more glazeds. As I made my way back to the counter, the employee intercepted me and handed me a serving of nachos with all the toppings. On the house. I paid my dollar, thanked the man again, got waved off again, and joined Al outside.
Al was most reasonably shocked at my fistfuls of food. I explained, and we set off to find whomever we could.
We didn’t find any more guys that night, but we found the other Outreach team. After the explanation (because I do not make a practice of walking around with nachos and bags of doughnuts), we found ourselves a wind-free spot alongside a building, spoke warmly of our benefactor, inhaled the scent of melted cheese, and tucked into our nacho-and-doughnut picnic.