Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online

February 13 , 2002

When I got up this morning I felt better than I had in quite a while. Between Bell's Palsy and a cold that I picked up last Friday, I have not been at my best lately. The weather didn't feel especially cold, which also made me happy. Even so, I still didn't call to check the temperature, for fear that too low a report would give me an excuse to bail out of my walk. At 6 o’clock I headed out the door. The pale light of the sun in the east indicated that spring was on the way, and that also perked me up.

I followed my usual path to the Plaza and then headed north to the Federal Building oval, which I circled in a clockwise direction. I pushed on to the old St. Vincent Hospital, where thoughts of a cup of coffee and a tasty treat quickened my pace toward the French Pastry Shop, a few blocks away. I hadn't been there for a while, and was eager to return.

Walking by St. Francis Cathedral, about a half a block from the restaurant, I ran into some longtime friends who were on their way to Mass. We chatted for a minute, and then we each headed on to our destinations. This couple attends church every day, which takes about an hour and a half, yet still they have time to manage a couple of small businesses.

Sitting on the sidewalk across the street from the pastry shop was a street person. Middle-aged, he was wearing a leather cowboy hat with a long feather in the hatband. A big Bowie knife hung on his belt, and the cowboy boots he was wearing had seen better days. From the look in his eyes, I was sure he had had his share of alcohol, and then some, in the last few hours, more likely than not cheap wine. I felt sorry for him. I remembered that in years past, if I had had a little too much to drink the night before, just the thought of any kind of alcohol would make me sick the next morning.

Maybe I felt guilty about indulging myself in the French Pastry Shop while this poor fellow sat outside in the cold. Maybe I felt that I hadn’t been to church in too long a time. Whatever the reason, something made me walk over to the homeless man and ask if he wanted a cup of coffee. He said that would be great, and he’d like four or five spoons of sugar in it. I asked about cream, and he said to skip it. I figured his body was craving the sugar he usually got from wine.

Inside the restaurant I ordered a peach pastry (my favorite) and two cups of coffee, one of them to go. The waitress asked if she should wait until I finished my coffee at the table before bringing the to-go cup. I said no, bring both at the same time.
When she returned, I took the to-go cup out to the homeless fellow. "Here you are, buddy," I said. “Thanks,” he replied, taking the cup. “This will hit the spot."

His eyes, although red, still sparkled. He looked happy and reasonably healthy. All the walking he did had probably dissipated most of the alcohol he consumed the night before. "How about a sweet roll?” I asked. "No thanks,” he said. “When you get to be my age, a fellow gotta watch his weight, you know!" "Yeah, you’re right,” I said. “Well, take it easy.” We parted.

I went back into the restaurant, sat down, drank my coffee and looked out the window at the homeless man, sipping his cup and watching the world go by. I wondered if maybe he wasn't happier then most of us. Maybe he had been a former CEO of some large company like Enron, and things had gone bad—and now that he was penniless, he had discovered that having no responsibilities wasn't such a bad alternative.

My thoughts were probably more dramatic than what really happened to the man, but I decided to hold onto those thoughts anyway. In a way I kind of admired the guy. He wasn’t complaining about his circumstances, and he even had enough backbone to pass on the sweet roll, for the sake of watching his weight. Well, I needed to do that, too—and if he could, I could. I had the waitress wrap up the peach pastry, and then took it home with me, to be consumed at another time.

Have a great day!


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