Bystanders Secretly Watch As Cop Approaches Homeless Beggar
Marilyn Caylor 1/16/2019
Elizabeth McClain and her friend Patti Crowe Walker were on their lunch break when a surreal scene unfolded right before them. A homeless man was sitting on the ground next to a stop sign on the side of the road, and everything he owned was stuffed inside his beat-up backpack. It was 42 degrees outside, and he looked lonely and hungry. But, instead of offering him a bite to eat, they just watched and waited to see what the cop would do.
It was hard not to notice the cruiser parked in the grass on Highway 70 in Jackson, Tennessee. There were probably screams of hunger echoing in the homeless man's mind, and when he heard an engine stop, he was likely hoping that a kind passerby would offer some spare change. Instead, all he saw was an armed police officer striding with fierce determination right towards him.
As Elizabeth and Patti secretly watched Madison County Deputy William Haley's actions from the safety of their car, their hearts grew warm when they saw that his intentions were nothing but kind. On her Facebook page, Patti tried to describe the situation from the homeless man's point of view.
"You look up to see a uniformed officer walking towards you. Your mind flutters thinking of everything you might be doing wrong. Suddenly this officer sits down pulls out lunch and not only takes away your hunger but your loneliness too."
The two women didn't know who these men were, but what they did know is that both of them were making a difference in each other's lives. Just watching them interact also made a difference in how Patti thinks of the world, too.
As for Officer Haley, he seeks to make a difference every day. He's normally a school resource officer at Jackson Careers and Technology, but he was out on patrol duty that day since school was out for Christmas break. He told the Jackson Sun:
"I'd seen the gentleman sitting by the side of the road a couple times throughout the morning, and I decided if he was still there when I got lunch, I'd pick him up lunch, too, and bring it to him."
Which is exactly what he did. He bought two cheeseburgers and two large Coke's at McDonald's, and then stopped to ask the homeless man if he was hungry.
"I asked him if he'd had lunch yet, and he said 'no.' So I asked if he'd have lunch with me, and he said 'yeah.' We sat down right there and talked about life, the military, where he'd been, where he was going. It was a good experience for me, and hopefully, for him, too."
Officer Haley had no agenda that day, but he wanted to do more than just hand the gentleman a brown bag lunch and then drive away. By taking time to have a conversation with him, this thoughtful cop acknowledged the other man as a human being.
It was probably likely that the homeless gentleman hadn't chatted with someone over a nice hot meal in quite a while. The fact that a total stranger took the time, even if he was a cop, to sit down with him probably made the homeless gentleman feel like a king for a day.
"It would've been OK for me to give him some food and driven off, but how long do you think it had been since someone sat down with him, shook his hand, prayed over a meal with him and asked him how he was doing? And think about how many days in a row it's been where it's been cold and rainy around here. I know if that were me out there, and it had been a while for me, I'd appreciate it."
But, it wasn't just the homeless guy who got something out of the lunchtime chat. The experience made quite an impact on the deputy's life, too!
"Without going into what we talked about or giving the gentleman's name, I'll just say it was a great conversation that I don't think I'll ever forget."
As for Patti, who secretly snapped a photo of the heartwarming scene, she says that our beliefs and opinions shouldn't affect how we treat others. "We all need each other and it's about time we pick ourselves up off the ground and start acting like it."