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Grapevine : October 2011
short, little man. I smelled him be- fore I saw him. He was obviously homeless. I could see the wet urine stains on the front of his pants. His hair was greasy, his face was filthy, and his clothes were threadbare and caked with mud. And he started walking toward me! I was aghast. It was just me and this guy, alone in the wine aisle. My first thought was that he was either panhandling or shoplifting. Either way I want- ed nothing to do with him. But he walked right up to my cart and said, "Excuse me, could you get another one of those boxes down?" I thought he asked because he was too short to reach the top shelf. Reluctantly I got it down and started to hand it to him when he slowly backed away and said, "Oh, it's not for me. It's for you ... so you don't have to come back tomorrow!" At first I didn't know how to respond. I thought of him as a filthy, worthless piece of nothing. I became enraged. "How dare you!" I yelled at him. "Just who do you think you're talking to? Do you have any idea who I am?" I threw that second box back up on the shelf, paid for my box (of course), and left the store. Isatinthecarinthe parking lot of the Wednes- day store with my hands on the steering wheel for a very long time. I was so ashamed and humili- ated. In my eyes, that foul-smelling man had not one shred of dignity and yet there he stood in judgment of me. But the truth was, that man knew exactly who he was talking to. That man knew exactly who I was. That man knew who I was better than I did. My ego had been severely punctured, and I was forced to true humility for the first time in my life. I knew in my heart I was no differ- ent from him. I threw that second box back up on the shelf, paid for my box (of course), and left the store. 42 October 2011