First, you save yourself

I let myself sleep in. For the first time in a long time. I usually like to seize the morning – even on weekends – when the LA world does not get a move on until 11 am. I like to hop on the bike and feel the fresh breeze as I ride down Ocean Park. Or see the streets completely empty going from the West Side to DTLA. It reminds me of a book I had to read in the 12th grade: The Loneliness of the long-distance runner by Alan Sillitoe. The main character described his early morning running units as feeling like the first and last person on earth. I can relate.

This morning, I think I was somewhere in the middle. At least I made it past 8 am. I should reward myself (always a good way to start the weekend – reward). As LA defies pretty much every rule of weather and temperatures, it decided, today would be a nice and toasty 28 degree Celsius morning. Flip flops.

I hopped into my car and drove to the next 7-11. I like my cinnamon coffee, don’t judge me! At that opportunity, I would be able to hand in my lottery ticket from last week and get a new one (I suspect I didn’t win anything).

I was in a helping mood today. I imagined what it would be like if a homeless guy in front of the 7-11 would just ask me for a cup of coffee or a dollar, and I could tell him: “You know what, go in, take whatever you want, tell me how much it is, and I’ll watch your belongings in the meantime”. I was having that kind of day. I wanted to help someone, be kind. There has to be someone around here who must need my help, damnit. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t do that on Rodeo Drive. As I mentioned, it is the end of the month. I know my helpfulness comes with a limit.

I pulled up to the 7-11, next to a mini-bus limousine that read “TCP celebrity limousine”. My smartie car kind of drowned next to it, but it’s used to that. It doesn’t mind.

I didn’t recognize the celebrity that was supposed to be inside. There was no homeless guy in front of the door asking me for anything either. Two minor disappointments, but my world was still ok.

Me in loving memory of cinnamon coffee. Good times!
Me in loving memory of cinnamon coffee. Good times!

I went for aisle 1 – the aisle with the first 4 cans of coffee: Hazelnut, Colombian, French Vanilla, Dark Roast. I am absolutely not compromising right now. Aisle 2, please! I went around the corner: Blueberry, Mild Roast, and… Cinnamon. Halleluja! I picked a medium cup, placed it underneath the dispenser and followed the instructions to “pull” (“jalar”). Bloop.

I had a medium cup and one measly drop of cinnamon coffee.

I had two choices: I could walk out with my drop of coffee and my pride, or help myself and get the French Vanilla. I wasn’t brave enough for Blueberry yet. On my way to aisle 1 to top off the pathetic blot of cinnamon, I stepped on my show. Which would have been its full purpose, except when I looked down, the strap of my flip flop had ripped and it was now merely a flop.

There I was: Losing lottery ticket, pathetic cinnamon drop in medium cup, and one foot in cooties, and not even able to help myself. And you know what my first thought was? “What the hell are these weirdoes going to think of me?” Really.

I did the only thing I could do: I topped off my cup with French Vanilla, and dragged my leg across the store (I could’ve hopped, but you know… hot coffee..). The cashier lady made it a point to repeat TWICE that my old lottery ticket is “no win, eh?! No win! Next, this no win!” YES THANK YOU! Geez!

Broken flip flop finally under one arm, hot cup of coffee in one hand, lottery ticket in the other, I made my way back home. A homeless guy let the door bump into me when I finally lost my shoe. I went home.

As I’m making Thanksgiving plans on where to possibly volunteer this year, I get an email that has the following volunteer suggestions (and I so wish that I made this up or I was joking, but this is so real): Help the Homeless, One Step at a Time- Shoe Processing Event  . So there we go, all my goals, rolled into one. Thanks, Universe – you have a peculiar sense of humor sometimes. I like it ;).

I admit, it could’ve been worse. But as Greg Johnson once sang “First you save yourself; then you save the world”. I will do my very best.


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