© John Smith
Address comments to John Smith at email@example.com
George was just leaving Walmart, having purchased some bananas, and as he approached the bus stop to catch a ride home, he observed a young man who appeared to be very vulnerable; helpless and hopeless.
Being kind of heart, and wanting to put him at ease, George greeted him. "Hey, how you doing?"
The young man looked at him in surprise, and hesitantly asked, "Could you please give me some bus fare? I just got out of the hospital but they wouldn't help me. Now I'm trying to get home."
George said, "Sure, I could do that, but tell me, are you hungry?"
The young man replied, "Yes, I am hungry; I haven't eaten in two days."
So George said, "The bus comes by here every 45 minutes, so if we miss this one, then we'll just catch the next one.
We have a choice of places to eat; there's a McDonald's right there and a Taco Bell just down the street. I would suggest the Taco Bell, because there's another bus stop right next to it, and we'll be able to get on the bus without any trouble."
The young man stared at George in disbelief, "You'd do that for me?"
"Of course," said George. "I'm hungry too, and I would enjoy your company."
So they walked down the road towards Taco Bell, and George asked him, "What's going on with you?"
"My father threatened to kill me, so I tried to kill myself instead of letting someone else do it."
"Wow, that's pretty serious. And the doctors wouldn't help you?"
"No, they just wanted to give me drugs, and I try to avoid that kind of stuff, I don't want to go through life like a vegetable."
"Yes, that's what I hate about doctors; anymore, all they do is push drugs at people; whatever the problem is,'We have a pill for that.' The more prescriptions you have, the better they like it. It's almost like the medical industry is owned by the pharmaceuticals."
"Here. let me get the door for you." the young man offered.
"Thanks, now go ahead and order whatever you want."
As they were eating, George asked, "What's our name?"
"Is that spelled with an "X"? - That's cool."
"But recently I've picked up a nick-name; I've been called 'X-Man' "
"So how old are you, X-Man?"
He replies, "20"
"Say, you're not religious, are you?"
"No, not really very much. I've asked for help at the churches, but they wouldn't do anything for me."
"Oh, good; then I can talk to you. I think that most religious people are lying, two-faced hypocrites. They're just pretending to be something that they're not. Either that, or they are terribly deluded. It seems to me that if religion makes you a better person, that's a good thing. But usually, it just does more harm than good."
Then X-Man asked, "Could I use your cell phone? I need to call my friend. She was going to pick me up, but had to run some errands first."
A few minutes later, "I've got to go. She's waiting for me right outside."
"Here, let me give you my phone number. Call me if you'd like to talk some more, OK?"
George thinks to himself, "Damn, I have these bananas and never thought to offer him one."
The next day, Xavier called and George told him, "If you can get a ride into town, I'll buy you lunch."
Some time later, they were sitting in the local Subway Sandwich shop, and Xavier said that he has been homeless for over a year. George asked, "My god, how did you survive winter?"
"I just went to sleep, and hoped that I would wake up the next morning."
"Don't you have any friends or relatives would could take you in?"
"No, they've all turned against me, even my Grandmother won't help me."
"That stinks. I'd take you in myself, but I'm not a position to do so. I've heard this is a pretty good area for charities, have you looked into what's available around here?"
"Yes, but I didn't find anything that works for me. They all have too many restrictions."
"Well, look; let me buy you a cell phone so we can stay in touch, and a bus pass so you can get around easier."
"Thank you, I really appreciate that. You're the only person who has been nice to me."
"Well, you're not a worthless piece of shit, and I'm going to love you until you can love yourself.
"Now, tell me, do you have a trade or a skill; what kind of work have you done?"
"I've worked in construction."
"And what is your 'passion' - what would you love to do all day long?"
"I like to play the guitar, but I'm afraid that I'm not very good. Hey, let's go to the guitar store, and I'll play a song for you."
At the guitar store, Xavier played and sang for George, and he really wasn't too bad. In fact, he was actually pretty good. "Did you write that song?" asked George.
"I just sort of ad-libbed it."
"I think you have some talent there, have you ever taken lessons?"
"No, I never had the chance."
"Well, *Lindsey Buckingham* never took lessons, and he did alright."
"Look, what are you doing Sunday morning? I'd like you to hear a local three-piece jazz band that I know of. Here's the catch, it's at a local church, but it's not a Christian church. It's a Religious Science/Science of Mind church. They are all nice people, not judging or condemning and everyone is welcome. In fact, the new minister is gay! And they talk about positive thinking, not heaven & hell. I'd like you to meet some of the people there.
"Some of them are 'huggers' but if you don't want to hug, just put your hand out for a handshake. You don't even have to say anything if you don't want to, and no one is going to make you stand up and introduce yourself.
Then they walked to the Center for Spiritual Living so he would know where it was located.
Sunday morning, George sent X-Man a text message reminding him about church and hoped that he would meet him there. George sat where he could watch the door, and by the end of the morning service, he was quite distressed because the young man had not arrived. He hated to assume the worst, but he was really worried about this new friend, because he found that he was quite fond of the lad.
Monday, George received a phone call and it was Xavier apologizing for not making it Sunday. He explained that he had trouble finding a place to charge up his new cell phone and never got the message. George was delighted to know that he was alright and invited him to meet the next day for lunch, or as he calls it, "Coffee & Conversation".
*who's Lindsey Buckingham ? - think "Fleetwood Mac" - he was lead guitar and vocalist during their most successful period
Tuesday morning while George was doing laundry, he got a phone call from X telling him that he couldn't make it to lunch, but would like to meet later in the afternoon. Then X called again, to say that he had missed his bus and would arrive even later.
George spent all this time thinking about what he wanted to tell him. He was concerned that people might assume his being of help had some ulterior motives, and wanted to explain about his history of helping younger guys just because he wanted to, and liked their company. He also felt that money is a tool to be used, and gladly shared with those who had a greater need than he did.
When they were finally able to connect, George offered to buy X a bicycle, if he needed one for transportation. But he replied that he would really rather have a skate board, so they went to 'price' them. DAMN, they now want $200 for one! They had seen some bikes for less than $100, but X declined that, saying that it wasn't necessary, and fearing that a bike could be stolen too easily.
Then X said that his "food stamps" hadn't arrived, and wondered if he could borrow some money. George said that he would rather just give it to him, and then he wouldn't have to worry about repaying it.
He did have some good news, though - X said that he was pretty sure he had a job lined up and would be starting to work soon. That took a load off of George's mind, I'm sure.
George made the comment that he hoped X wouldn't download a bunch of apps on his phone, because that would 'jack-up' his phone bill.
X said that he was wondering how he was even going to pay his phone bill, but George said, "Oh, that's on my account. I'm paying for it. I'm sorry that I didn't make that clear to you."
Then George talked about Kant's CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: (a moral obligation or command that is unconditionally and universally binding) - in other words, doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.
He said, "Simply stated, if it's lunch time, and I have two sandwiches but you don't have any, what would I do? The answer is so obvious that there is no question about it. And if I only had one sandwich but you didn't have any, I would cut it in half ... then if the pieces were of unequal size, I could give you the larger portion. That's what I believe, and that's how I choose to live my life."
X puzzled, "And you say that you're not a Christian?"
George replied, "Oh no, I'm much better than that.... I figure that there's only one human race; we're all brothers and sisters, and we should not only get along with one another, but we should help each other."
George reminded X of the CAR SHOW that was coming up the following Saturday. Xavier didn't like crowds, but he could just look at the Classics, hot rods and custom cars, and ignore the people. They would enjoy each others' company, and besides, George offered to buy lunch!
A couple of days go by, and Xavier calls George up, "Hey, do you want to 'hang out' today?"
George said, "Sure, let me know when you get into town." An hour later, having heard nothing, George calls X and asks, "Where are you?"
X says, "I missed the bus and I'll have to catch the next one."
"OK, call me when you get here."
Shortly after that, X calls to report that he is in transit, and will arrive soon. So they meet and go to G's fav sandwich shop. Over lunch, X says, "I was at the bus stop, but the driver didn't stop for me." (Hmmm...thinks George, OK that's possible)
Then X says, "Can you loan me $50? My sister will let me stay with her if I pay rent, and it will be a lot closer to my job." So of course, "uncle" George hands over the money and then X says, "My dog is dying and I can't afford a 'vet' but I did see some medicine at the 'feed & seed' that will help him. It costs $30"
George is dubious and reluctant to give him still more money so he says, "let me call around to the pet supply shops and see what they have available." So G checks with them the next day and the pet shops tell him it's an antibiotic that they want and that the dog really needs to go to the vet.
He calls X and asks, "Are you sure you saw what you want at the 'feed & seed'?"
X says, "Yes, it's the same stuff I gave to my last dog."
So G tells him, "Well they don't have it here, so I'll have to come over to your area and get it for you."
X replies, "That's OK; the dog died."
G says, "I'm sorry to hear that. Do you still want to come and have lunch together?"
"Yes, I'm going crazy and need to get out of here."
While George is waiting for him to arrive, he does some reading and finds that the particular disease X described is contagious and now the house & yard are contaminated. Any other dog that comes in there will get sick and die, too.
After a bit, X calls to say that he missed the bus (the driver wouldn't stop for him, again)
"Well, catch the next one, then," George tells him. An hour later, still no Xavier, so G phones him and asks, "Where are you?"
"Oh, I got side tracked and I haven't left yet."
George suggests, "Well, maybe we should try again tomorrow."
X asks, "Don't you want to hang out today?"
G says, "Look, it's hot, I'm tired, I have shopping to do, and then I'm going home."
Later, X sends a text message apologizing for the mix up & confusion and G replies with a text that says, "Tomorrow is the car show. Come early before it gets hot & crowded."
Saturday morning, G gets up bright & early, goes to his fav coffee shop to read the newspaper and wait to hear from Xavier. After a while, he decides to call and remind him - the phone goes to 'voice mail' - the last time that happened, it was because X's phone needed to be recharged and he hadn't had a chance to do that. So George decides to just enjoy the car show and wait to see what's going on with X. Hours later, still no phone call and no Xavier. George thinks, "He probably won't show up for church Sunday, either"
George is pondering what to do about this kid. He really likes him, but he has some 'issues' - G wants to give him a 'pep talk' and try to help him along in life, and yet he also wants to tell him "Dude, if you don't want to be with me, it's your loss."
The next time George sees Xavier, he tells him, "All this stuff about missing the bus just sounds like an 'excuse' - anyone who didn't know you might think that you are being irresponsible or inconsiderate. Dammit, I love you, and I don't mean anything 'funny' by that - I care about you and I'm concerned about your health and your happiness.
"When I was your age, I was just a dumb kid, but you've already shown more maturity than most of your peers. I didn't get any maturity or wisdom until I quit drinking at age 35. And we've already discussed that; drugs and alcohol won't help you, they will only cause more harm.
"I think you might have low self esteem because you had a rotten childhood - your parents are losers, but that doesn't have to define you.
"You can rise above all that - remember I told you 'the best revenge is living a good life' - you have a bit of a challenge, but that just means you need to work a little harder at it.
"You'll need to get a job and keep it, work your way up in the system and learn to stand on your own two feet.
"Having done all that, you will find your independence, and a whole lot of self-worth.
"But if you kill yourself, that means those bastards win. So let's not have any more suicide attempts, OK? I want to see YOU win!"
"What do you mean, you lost your wallet? I just gave you that wallet."
"It must have fallen out of my pocket on the bus, and the guys who were sitting near me are the kind who would keep it."
"I suppose that means you lost the money I gave you, too."
"Yes, most of it, but I still have a little."
"Dude, I'm not rich, I can't keep giving you money every time I see you. I will help with things that are necessary and within reason, but there's a limit to what I can do."
"All this fear about people watching you is ludicrous. Our thoughts create our reality - just because someone is looking in your direction, that does not mean that they are looking AT YOU - they might be looking at something next to you or behind you. So don't believe everything you think. Sometimes it's just in your head, and you're doing it to yourself.
"And when you are crossing the street, you need to keep our eyes & ears wide open and stay alert - watch out for the fools on the road... imagine that they are out to get you, or at least make you look bad."
George sent a text message saying that next Friday looks like the best day to meet for lunch and X called back to say that he is now working nights, but will try to make that date.
George is glad to hear that he is OK and will be happy to see him again.
The next day, Xavier calls to say, "I'm going through some 'stuff' and I'd really like to talk."
George tells him, "I'm free all day tomorrow; why don't you catch an early bus so we don't have to be out there in the afternoon heat."
So George gets up bright & early, does his morning coffee & newspaper, but still no word from X.
G sends him a text, but gets no reply. Well, George doesn't know what to think, but he does have some errands to run, and later while he's doing that, Xavier calls.
"I'm sorry, but I have a terrible toothache and a fever. I might have to go to emergency."
George's immediate response is, "How can I help?"
Xavier asks, "Do you know where to get 'Oral gel'?"
George says, "I have Oral gel; I keep that stuff on hand."
So X says, "I know you don't like to be out in the hot afternoon, but I need some sleep. Let me call you later and we can get together."
George tells him, "You need sleep. Get some rest and call me later. Right now, that's more important than a little discomfort for me."
Later that same afternoon, Xavier called to say the he is on the bus and will arrive in about 20 minutes. Now George needs to 'hustle' because if he walks fast, he can just make it to the bus station around the same time that X gets there.
As X gets off the bus, he stops and says, "Wait a minute, I forgot my wallet." He gets back on the bus, and wouldn't you know, his wallet is nowhere to be found. Too bad that not everyone is honest, because it's gone now.
Can you believe it? That's the third wallet he's lost in three weeks.
George suggests getting a "biker's" wallet that attaches with a chain; then he wouldn't be losing them.
George gave him the "Oral gel" that he wanted and then they went to G's fav coffee shop to talk.
And lunch - anytime is a good time for George to eat. He likes to eat four times a day instead of only three like most people. And he finds that it's more conducive to casual conversation.
George asked if Xavier has been reading the emails that he sent, and X says, "Yes, and some of them made me feel bad." George said that he wasn't trying to make him feel bad, but that he was trying to sort out what was going on with the two of them.
As they are talking, Xavier says that when he told his Mother about George helping him, she got it all wrong and started telling relatives that the kid was "selling his ass" so George pulled up "The Four Agreements" on his phone and showed Xavier what he thought was the best way to react to that kind of low-life crap...."Don't take anything personally" - that's their stuff; it's not about you, it's really about them.
They talked about Xavier's job and the prospects of finding a better one. George suggested that he not quit the present job until he had a better one lined up..."Any job is better that no job at all," he said.
George said that he would really like to show Xavier some beautiful photos of the High Sierras that he had seen at the hospital. Xavier was not very receptive to that idea. He disliked the hospital and no amount of persuasion would convince him that they were worth seeing.
Then as they were walking down the street, Xavier saw a guy he knew from before. He said that they had met on the bus and they enjoyed singing together. So they stopped and talked for a while and then decided to head on over to the bus station where they could sing for a while before the bus came to take X home.
The guys were singing and having a great time when George noticed a strange feeling... (was he jealous - that's odd) Here he thought that he was going to spend some time with his good friend Xavier, but X was having fun with someone else... OK, that's not very mature. The important thing is that the guys are having a good time and forgetting about their troubles for a while.
He even cited the parable, "I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Look for the good. Be grateful for what is, not worrying about was is not.
George knew a few of the songs, and he sang along too, so that was kind of fun.
When the buses finally rolled in, George reminded Xavier about his plans for the week (mainly lunches) and Xavier said that he would try to make it if he could.
George hopes to see Xavier a couple more times during the week, and probably again next week, when he has more time to spend with him.
*The Four Agreements are:
Be Impeccable With Your Words
Don't Take Anything Personally
Don't Make Assumptions
Always Do Your Best
Be Impeccable With Your Word:
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don't Take Anything Personally:
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
Don't Make Assumptions:
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best:
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
*THE FOUR AGREEMENTS copyright 1997 by Don Miguel Ruiz
ARRGH! I wasted the majority of the day waiting & wondering - what the heck is going on with X?
G's alcoholic mind had X jumping on the first bus as soon as he got off work that morning, and rushing right over to see him - so where is he?
Am I overwhelming him? Is he in trouble? Doesn't he care that I'm concerned and just want to be helpful...?
Finally made contact and X said that he was waiting for a social worker to bring him a bus pass.
George said, "If that's not going to happen, I will jump on a bus and come over to your place. I want to see you; I want to talk to you."
George is sitting in his favorite coffee shop pondering what to do, when his friend Chris walks in. As they exchange pleasantries and catch up on things, G's phone rings and X says, "no social worker/no bus pass"
George explains briefly what's going on to Chris, who then volunteers to drive George over to the next town, where he wants to go. That would be much faster than taking the bus.
So as they are driving on the freeway, G calls X and says, "Surprise, I'll be there in 5 minutes"
Chris drops George off and soon Xavier shows up, but is reluctant to sit near him, or even be seen with him in public because of the nasty rumors that his Mother is spreading about him. So they couldn't really get into a deep conversation.
George says, "OK, briefly, here is a wallet with a chain, and a new bus pass. Please don't lose them."
Xavier looks at the wallet and says, "That's 'gay'."
George tells him, "No it's not; 'bikers' wear them - it's 'macho'."
He also reiterated what they had discussed about finding a new job, the sooner the better.
And he explained that what he meant about being 'jealous' was that he relates best to people one-on-one, but if you add another person, it changes the dynamics and it's more difficult to talk about the really important stuff.
"Meet me for lunch tomorrow, and I'll take you to that buffet we've both heard about."
Later, George sends a text message, "Here's how it works: If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting, because if nothing changes, then nothing changes. Think about that. It makes a lot of sense."
He also reminded him, "Please try to come Sunday morning. I think you'll like the new church I found. They talk about positive thinking instead of heaven & hell."
So, we'll have to see what tomorrow brings. (George shakes his head in dismay.)
Since Xavier is now afraid to be seen with him in public, George thinks that maybe he should just give him some space. "He has my phone number; instead of calling him, I'll wait for him to call me."
Sometimes days go by with no contact from X-Man, and other times...
He called right after church and apologized for not being there, but said it was because his father took away his bus pass. George says, "That stinks; I paid forty bucks for that pass."
X said his Dad commented that he didn't want him "going over there" - where - to my town, my church, or to be with me?...
George is kind of stressed over this situation - his parents kicked him out, they're being of no help, and yet they seem concerned about him in some strange way.
George suggests to Xavier that he could try telling his father that he needs the bus pass so he can find a job, so he can eat - they're not giving him any food, so that would make sense.
Are they trying to help him, or just hurt him?
George also suggests that Xavier not volunteer any information - if he hadn't told them that an old man was helping him, they wouldn't think that he was "selling his ass" - which is exactly what he is NOT doing!
And if his father didn't know about the bus pass and had never seen it, then he wouldn't have taken it away from him.
"Don't tell him that I bought that cell phone for you, or he might take it away from you, too. Better yet, he shouldn't even know about it. Don't even show it to him."
Xavier calls again a little while later to ask if G wants to 'hang out' - George says that he would rather do things earlier in the day before it gets too hot. And besides, there is the transportation problem - he could go over there, but that little town is too scary for an old white man, and there is very little to do there.
Then X calls again to ask if G could help order some stuff online for him... "skater shirts & socks" (maybe George heard him wrong) but G says that they will have to talk about that another time, as he is out running errands and just wants to get home.
Later George is checking his phone and finds that he has missed a call from Xavier. So G calls him and X says that he had called, but then hung up. He is debating whether to 'borrow' some of his mother's spare change. George is aghast, and tells him it's not a good idea. He believes one should never lie, cheat or steal, and that you should always tell the truth.
Somewhere in all this talking, George brings up what he calls the "Homeless Mentality" by which he means that some people get stuck where they are, and think that nothing will ever improve - they are hopeless, just plodding along trying to survive, yet wishing they could die. This is not a very noble thought, and there must be something to give a person hope for a better future.
George wants to give Xavier a new perspective and put some hope back into his life.
Both George and X-Man hope to get together again sometime very soon. (and as always, eat LUNCH)