Homeless in Shepherdstown
Like others in our community, I am surprised to find myself among “the elderly,” and often dwell on events that have transpired in my lifetime. It is reassuring to frequently find that well-worn aphorisms — trusted guideposts in our lives — are still worth their salt. One of them, “there is a silver lining in every dark cloud,” was validated recently during a visit to our local grocery.
I was a little bedraggled, after tending my bees and working all day in the yard it was a pleasant, unusually warm 80 degrees outside. To make matters worse, I have taken to wearing “old man” suspenders, since the alternative is to work with one hand and hold my pants up with the other. And if your suspenders are a little too tight, your pants work their way up to the point that it looks like you are wearing what my mom used to call “floods”- you have an extra six inches of boney legs between the top of your socks and bottom of your pants, and your chin is getting too close to your belly button. I was also a little shaggy, having not been to my barber since this crisis started and a friend graciously trimmed my hair in places. So, in this tired, disheveled state I ventured out to Food Lion to get some cat food and meat of some kind to put on the grill for me and my two little (always hungry) dogs.
There was an attractive young woman whom I encountered several times in the isles. By chance she ended up ahead of me in the checkout line. We both followed the well-ordered markers on the floor for proper social distance. As I was paying, the clerk with a smile on her face and a $20 dollar bill in her hand, said, “that lady who was ahead of you told me to apply this to your bill.” It was a total shock and a wonderful gesture, but very humbling. More importantly, it emphatically renews my faith that there are still thoughtful people out there in our world who care about each other and certainly here in Shepherdstown. Yes, there are yet positive outcomes to be appreciated in this very dark COVID-19 cloud!
I couldn’t avoid taking a peek in the mirror when I got home. I might have to do “take-outs” until this is over. I did have every appearance of a “homeless person.” Fortunately, I was wearing a mask.
Mike Austin, of Shepherdstown