I feel empty. I don’t even really know how to put it into words. I feel selfish. Entitled. Ungracious.

Tonight was the first time having the house to myself in a very long time, I like my alone time, I need my alone time. I had big plans for this alone time. They mostly involved food, but anyways. I had settled in with my McDonalds, pleased with my productive day and it was time to enjoy my….. Oh. A Big Mac instead of the Quarter Pounder I ordered. I’m a picky eater. This upset me. Mostly because I thought I checked the bag before I ventured home, also because I was the only person in line the entire time. I work in customer service, I know mistakes are made regardless of who’s there or what time it is. But still, I let it upset me. My raging hormones are also partially to blame, but! There should be no excuse. Because I have nothing better to do with my time, I jumped back in my car (after eating my hot fries) and went to return said Big Mac.

On the drive over I’m thinking in my head how I can be as pleasant and un-asshole-y as possible. How do I not annoying the shit out of these wonderful humans who are just trying to do their job?

“Welcome to McDonalds, what can I get for you?”

“I’m about to be really annoying, but I just ordered a Quarter Pounder about twenty minutes ago and I got a Big Mac instead.”

“Oh sorry about that, we’ll get you the quarter pounder for sure, it’ll be at the second window.”

This time there is a line. I try not to think too much about it. This happens all the time I tell myself.

“I’m so sorry about that, here’s your quarter pounder, no onions.”

I offer to give the Big Mac back, she shrugs it off, “no no just keep it.”

Normally, I would drive straight out (The McDonalds is attached to a gas station), but I decide to turn left and drive through the gas station parking lot. As I drive by, I see a man standing by the entrance with a handmade sign. I didn’t really catch what it said, but I imagine it was along the lines of “can you spare some change”. It took me about point five of a second to realize what I was going to do next. I awkwardly pulled back around the pumps, put my car in park and brought him the Big Mac.

His eyes lit up as I walked towards him with the bag.

“Did you want a Big Mac?”

“Yes please!”

It felt like he hadn’t eaten in ages. I handed him the bag and before I even got back to my car he had sat down on the sidewalk and opened the bag up. Good, I thought, he’ll get some food in his belly versus random bits of change to use on who knows what. (Yes, that was stereotypical of me) But then I thought oh maybe I should’ve popped back into McDonald’s and gotten him a full meal. Or maybe I should’ve gone into the gas station and gotten him a Gatorade. Or maybe. I don’t know. Does he have a place to sleep tonight? Maybe I could take him to Inn from the Cold Kelowna. The point is instead of feeling satisfied or content or whatever you’re supposed to feel when you do a good deed- I felt helpless. And then I felt fucking stupid for feeling sorry for MYSELF when this dude is begging for money or food or anything to get by. Regardless, this is how I feel. I feel empty. My heart broke. My stomach sank. And the tears rolled down my face. I just made myself so uptight about a fucking cheeseburger when this guy devoured it with gratitude. I’ll never forget his excited reaction, his politeness. I feel empty. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and tonight there was a lesson I needed to learn. This night became so much more than my four hours with the house to myself.

For those who say well why couldn’t he just walk into the McDonald’s he’s standing outside of and get a job… Ask yourself if you’d hire someone fresh off the street to work in your food and beverage establishment. I’m not saying he couldn’t clean up nice, but I am saying it’s harder than we think. And I say we because I often think those same things too. There’s so many jobs, jobs entitled assholes like us turn our noses up at BECAUSE WE CAN. So have some compassion. Maybe you don’t need to find everyone on the street a job, but maybe you could hand the man or woman on the corner or in front of the gas station your sandwhich. BECAUSE YOU CAN.

The point is if you have something to offer and you see someone in need, help them out. I’m lucky, yeah I work hard, but I’m lucky to have all that I have and do all that I do. I think I can spare a cheeseburger every now and then, and I think you can too.

Published by Rebecca Steinhubl