A scruffy-looking man and woman were asking for help with a cardboard sign Saturday afternoon at Yosemite and Commerce avenues.
Their backpacks resembled heavy Marine Corps issued outfits with everything they would need from bedrolls flashlights.
They were out of food and money. They looked tired and lost and were dirty, but still had hope. The promise of jobs cutting wood in Placerville awaited them if they could only get there. For the most part they were being ignored by motorists going to and from nearby fast food restaurants.
How very often have we been approached by someone with a broken fan belt or a gas container begging with untruths that have made us all skeptical of everyone asking for help.
They were igonored until one man in his 50s, casually but nicely dressed, parked nearby and asked if they were actually hungry. If they were truly hungry, he wanted to buy their lunches at the nearby In ‘N Out Burger. The man walk ahead of the woman into the hamburger place to order whatever she wanted – “and get something for your friend too,” he added. It actually gave me a chill to see his willingness to help these strangers as he took out his wallet and paid with cash.
I watched him through the west windows as he left the building, after paying the bill. He walked to his car at the far side of the parking lot near Commerce Avenue near where the couple had stood at the curbing.
The other “hiker” was still alone at the intersection holding his cardboard sign. In what appeared to be a second thought, he stepped away from his vehicle and called to the hiker across the lawn that his lunch was waiting for him. Then he drove away having gone the extra mile for a couple truly down and out – expecting no recognition for his actions.
I introduced myself as a reporter to the woman who was seated on the restaurant bench waiting for her order. “My faith in mankind has been restored today,” she told me.
“Where are you headed?” I asked.
“We have jobs cutting wood waiting for us in Placerville. We had hoped we could come up with the $28 it will take for bus fare, but there was no one wanting to help,” she said. “We had only gotten a couple dollars out there.”
There was someone who overheard the seriousness of her tone and their need to get to those jobs. He walked up to her, handed the woman two $20 bills and said, “Maybe this will help, God Bless!” quickly walking away toward the door.
Her response, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it. Thank you so much,” as her partner walked through the front door, set his pack on the floor and sat beside her – not yet aware they had money for the bus trip to Placerville via Stockton.