Remember George?

Posted on May 20, 2010


This is a post about George.  If you’ve not been following this blog for a while, you won’t know my friend George.  I wrote about him a few months ago.  George is a homeless gentleman who hangs out at my office….aka, Starbucks.  George is an interesting character.  He doesn’t speak much, makes little eye contact, wears baggy navy pants or brown corduroys and a navy sweatshirt.  The staff at Starbucks take care of him with a cup of coffee into which he pours a ton of sugar and milk into, and frequently they give him a muffin or other snack.  George in return cleans up after the customers that leave a mess at their table, rakes leaves at the tattoo shop across the street or Starbucks small parking lot.

So, what do I know about this man who shuffles when he walks, mumbles to himself, and laughs at things he says that noone else understands?  Well, I know that he cares about taking care of this place, Starbucks, that he considers his haunt.  I know that George is a news junkie….loves his newspaper, or yours if you happen to leave it on your table when you go to the bathroom, though I must say, he folds it up very neatly after he reads it and puts it in the newspaper holder so others can read it once he is done.  I know that George doesn’t like black coffee.  By the time he is done with the sugar and milk, it hardly resembles coffee.

For the last year and some weeks, George and I greet each other by a very quick glance and nod of the head.  We had never spoken until this morning when I walked into Starbucks after some time away.  George was sitting outside in front of Starbucks smoking a cheap brown cigarette and drinking his coffee.  As I walked by, we made brief eye contact and I nodded my head with our usual greeting.  Suddenly, George spoke…and spoke to me.

“Hello,” he said.  “Good to see you.”

I can’t even describe in words the shock I felt with those few words he spoke.  We made eye contact and this time more than a fleeting glance.

“Thank you George,” I said stopping in my tracks.  “It is good to see you too.  How are you?”

“Good,” he said.  “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

So, now let me describe my morning.  I went inside and picked up my coffee along with a muffin for George.  I stolled outside and asked if I could join my homeless friend who I’ve seen almost daily for over a year.  What I found out about George?  Well, it’s been a rough winter for him.  A few health issues, but he’s feeling better now and grateful for the tattoo shop owner who has given him a room to stay in.  He’s worried about the oil slick and the animal life that is getting hurt by it.  He’s excited about a NFL jacket that one of the Starbucks regulars gave to him…he pulled it out of a plastic bag in his shopping cart to show me.  He was happy to see me show up this morning, and you know what?  That made my day.