I was in line in our cafeteria with more than a few cares in the world. I work in a hospital. I have three autoimmune diseases. I see my Veterans in their homes – regardless of where that may be. Many of my Veterans are at higher risk for a variety of reasons. I always have a duty to our Veterans. But part of that is having a duty to myself to be healthy enough to help them. It’s a fine line that seems to keep moving.
As I was waiting for my veggie burger, the gentleman in line behind me asked for chicken tenders and French fries. They had JUST come out of the fryer after all. And then he looked at the very reasonably priced options. “What can I get for under $3?” he asked the line cook. Under $3. THREE dollars. He said this with no shame. This is what he had to spend. $3. And it broke my heart.
As the line cook gave him the options, I interrupted and offered to buy his lunch. He looked at me, startled. And I simply asked, “Please, let me do this for Blake.” As we walked through the cafeteria to grab a soda and some dessert, I told him Blake’s story. And a tear rolled down his cheek. He told me how sorry he was for our friends’ terrible loss and with some guilt, told me how grateful he was, how he would pay it forward when he gets his next Social Security check.
And a tear rolled down my cheek.