I met Jim as he was trudging up the hill on South Street, a black trash bag slung over one shoulder. He stopped me as I jogged past and asked if there was a Laundromat close by.
“I’m homeless. This is all I own and I’ve got to wash it,” he said, dropping his trash bag onto the sidewalk, where it puddled at our feet.
He introduced himself. We shook hands beneath the elm tree.
A pastor at a church downtown had given Jim five dollars to do his laundry. “But not until he’d made me tell him my life story, and I mean my whole life story,” Jim added, shaking his head. “I’m not doing that again.”
I knew why that pastor had asked for Jim’s life story before he handed over the five dollars, because it’s what I’d been thinking, too. I wanted to know Jim’s story, not only because I was curious, but also because I, too, was leery of being duped. I wanted to make sure Jim was legit, that he deserved my handout and wasn’t some con artist or addict looking for a quick buck.
Part of me, a big part of me, wanted to be sure Jim was worthy of my grace…