Rock Bottom Hope

Two questionable characters were loitering in front on the grocery store bench. I did what all concealed handgun licensed carriers do.  I slipped a small pistol in my pocket before going in.

About the time I was in front of the bench, one of the men said, “Hey brother! Why don’t you hire me?”

That’s not the first time I’ve heard that line, so I knew at some time or another he had worked or interviewed for a job with me. I looked at the man who spoke and said, “I’m sorry. I recognize your face, but your name is slipping me.”

He said, “Remember? I bruised my hand the first week I worked for y’all cause I put my hand where y’all said not to.”

That snapped my memory and I called the man by his first and last name. He was quite pleased to be remembered from 7 or 8 years ago.

He wasted no time chit chatting and got right to his point.

“Hey man, it’s like this. When you come out in a minute, can you spare a little to help out?”

I remember dropping off the former employee back then at the local Alcoholics’ Anonymous building several times after work. He was clean, then, and regularly attended meetings.

He was a very likeable guy, and overall, other than a bad lapse in judgment, he did a good job. He got back into trouble though and fell off the wagon. He never even called in to say he was quitting. He just quit coming to work, but later we found out why.

I asked if he was clean.

“Yeah. I’m clean, but I’m homeless.”

Rock Bottom Hope Story

I asked him to come in the store with me. I was going to get lunch at the in-store deli and if he was legitimately hungry, he’d follow me in.

He followed.

We sat down to a truly southern meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and greens. He gulped his Dr. Pepper first, then systematically ate both pieces of chicken on his plate.

He denied current drug or alcohol use, but I deeply suspect his sincerity. I asked why he quit so abruptly, even though I clearly remember. He ended up drunk in Beaumont, was arrested and spent a week in jail. He told me, however, that he just quit coming in.

I called his hand on it.  He relented and then he told it the way I remembered. He only disputed the Beaumont part. Apparently, it was Port Arthur.

We visited more. He thanked me for giving him a job before, and since I do human resources work, was wondering about another chance now?

I answered directly.  “I don’t give jobs. I hire employees. I don’t give opportunities. I only open the door and let people make the best of what they want to do. You chose to close an open door to you. I can’t go back and hire you again, but there will be someone else who will.”

He chewed on a bite of chicken for a minute without looking at me, like the words were registering deep inside.

He eventually looked up and asked if I was hiring him to work for the meal. I laughed and told him the meal was a gift to an old friend. He smiled, said “Thank you”, and took another bite of chicken.

We talked a little more and I told him I had to get back to work. I wished him the very best and told him he ought to go see if his old A.A. sponsor was still around. For the first time, he looked me squarely in the eyes. The corner of his eyes turned up to match the grin on his face and he said he may just do that.

We shook hands and he returned to the bench in front of the store while I hurried back to work.

Rock Bottom Hope Story -- Finish Strong!

Hunger motivates.

This man is hungry, not so much for food, but purpose. He hungers for meaning and significance in his life. He hungers for self-confidence, self-reliance and self-respect.

He was a good worker and full of potential during his short employment, but unfortunately, he battles a liquid demon.  More than once in his life he’s spit steak out of his mouth in exchange for swallows of cheap booze. Those swallows never work out.

I don’t know where the bottom of his pit is, but if life is gracious to him, he will wake up in the bottom of the pit soon.  Then, and really only then, can he start to claw his way back up to take advantage of open doors.

Best wishes to you, sir. I truly hope you hit rock bottom, and soon, for your own good.


26 thoughts on “Rock Bottom Hope”

  1. Sad, isn’t it? I always offer to buy them a meal/food also. I am like you, “If they are really hungry, they will follow.”

    I just thank God, I am not one of them. If drugs would have done to me what chocolate does, I would have been a wonderful drug addict!

    I do not know the reason people choose this path of life, and probably never will. I cannot comprehend why some choose this way of life, so therefore; have no understanding of it.

    The main thing I guess is when we see one of them, not to pass them by, but feed them. As we do it to them, we do it to Christ. Good thought provoking post and God Bless, SR

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Since I knew him, it makes it different for me. People I don’t know, I ask myself afterwards if Was right or not. People I do know, I usually feel like I should have done more. And peace to you, SR

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are always “right” Jeff, when we extend kindness to anyone. I mean I have to ask myself, “Who am I that Christ would die for me?” Undeserving, a sinner, a “Texas sinner at that!”
        When Jesus took His last breath that is not what He saw, in me. He saw someone worth dying for. When I help someone who is like you describe, I try and see them as “someone worth showing and giving kindness to, regardless.”
        Jesus did not leave one soul out of the phrase, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?” These are the things which help me love those we often describe as “unlovable” and one we cannot help to change their lives. But we can help change a “moment” in their lives.
        Are you freezing your rear off? 21 here tonight. Supposed to be 47 tomorrow thank You God! I do not know how to function in a winter that lingers. I have worn shorts at Christmas time, so for me, I hate it! LOL! God bless, SR

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad you made him think. That’s was the best part. I appreciate that you bought him food and not just gave him money as well. I see people on the street corners here every day and will give them any food I may have in the car. It won’t hurt me to give up a meal but if it helps them, I’m happy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree! Buying or giving someone food is not usually turned into any addicting substance. You want to help, not hurt, to share, but not be taken advantage of, to speak truth, but convey kindness. And I love your idea about giving up a meal in someone’s behalf!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Are you a Prudential agent Jeff? Were you hinting and trying to sell him on a piece of the rock? Keep up the good work Jeff I really like stories of witnessing on the go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denny! It’s always hard, at least for me, to know when to help, when to confront, when to show compassion and when to toe the line. Appreciate you reading this and your words of encouragement!!


  4. Good story. There’s hope yet. I believe you handled the situation with wisdom and love. I pray that God in His mercy lets him come running to him totally ready to surrender.


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