Because I got out of work early today, I took a different bus than the one I normally take in the evenings. Who knew that a four hour difference on the same route could be that different?
I took a seat, crossed my arms, and put on my shades. Nap time! Smelly disheveled man sits next to me. Or not. I firmly grasp my purse, cover my nostrils and turn the other way.
"What would Jesus do?" the voice inside my head asked.
"He would talk to him and care for him."
"So what should you do?"
"So why aren't you?"
"Because I'm scared he's going to be like the man on the airplane and not stop talking to me and eventually try to follow me home..."
"Jesus didn't fear discomfort or physical harm."
"I know, I know."
The homeless man pulls out an index card with phone numbers and starts dialing the numbers on his cell phone. "HEY GEORGE! Hey ummm if you need me for anything, let me know. I'm in desperate need of a job, I'm having a really rough time. Help a brother out, yeah? Just give me a call."
[Okay, since when did homeless people have cell phones? Man, America, you really are something. (Apparently homeless people can earn up to $200/week!) That could also explain where he got the money to ride a bus to New Jersey.]
I began thinking of ways that I could help. He needs a job. Yesterday, we had our corporate give back day and volunteered at the Jericho Project in the Bronx, where we painted two stories of a transitional house for the homeless. Ah ha! As I was about to tell him about checking out the Jericho Project and how they could help him find a job, he pressed the STOP button to get off at the upcoming stop. I missed my chance. :(
As I was about to nap again, these rowdy teenage boys run onto the bus, and the leader of the pack sat next to me.
"Hey, I like your belt. Where'd you get it?" his friend asked.
"It was free," the boy next to me smirked as he put a lighter in his mouth.
"Where'd you get your shoes?"
"It was free, too."
"What'd you do? Just slip them on and leave?"
"Nah, I just stuck 'em in my pack. Hey, let's go to the back of the bus and light one."
"No man, what if we burn the whole bus down?!" the third kid chimed in.
"Oh never mind, here's our stop!"
They ran off the bus and I let out a sigh of relief. I am definitely not as versatile in different cultures as I thought I was, or as loving as I hypothetically thought I could be. Jesus, fill me with your strength to be able to love people who are different than I am.