I was coming up the access road next to the freeway near my home. I had been to the grocery store, and my distress at the current cost of food was still fresh. It was 113 degrees, late summer on the desert, and the drivers around me seemed more aggressive than usual. I got caught at the light, and took a deep breath. That’s when I saw him.
He was standing in the shadow of a dusty oleander bush, and he was perhaps as old as 17. He was almost transparent with the heat, and his face was pinched and pale, the circles under his eyes almost as blue as they were. He had a small backpack, and a sign that I couldn’t have read if I’d tried to. I looked him in the eyes, and he looked back at me. I glanced at the light, saw that there was a brief window of time, and dug into my purse for the bill that I had I managed to escape with from the grocery store. I rolled down my window, and he stepped over to where I was. I simply handed him the money, pointed towards the store, and then the light turned green. He said, “Thank you,” and I went home to my worries, my utility bill, and the remnants of my middle age.
He was still a child, and he was completely alone and in very rough shape. I had given him what cash I had on me, and it was just enough for a few survival supplies. I could only hope that he didn’t end up being hurt by worse than the heat and hunger.
Today, I will go back past the place where he stood. I made up a list of places where he can call for help. But if he is still there, I will probably give him enough money to go back to the store for more food and water. If that makes me a fool or a bleeding heart, then so be it.