December 28. Taco Bell parking lot. Somewhere near Chester, Virginia.
Meet my new friend, Constantine. He’s yet another example of why snap judgments are so unfair.
I was sitting in the Taco Bell drive-thru after a speaking gig that had me hopping all night and unable to grab a bite.
As I sat in my car in the long line, I watched a man appear on foot from across the parking lot and try both lobby doors, only to discover they were locked.
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Then I watched him survey the cars in line and approach mine.
I rolled down my window, made my snap judgment, and waited for his request.
He quickly dug into one of his pockets and pulled out a handful of what appeared to be dollar bills. “I’m not asking for a handout,” he said. “I’m just really hungry and I wondered if I gave you money would you buy my food? Because I know they won’t help me in the drive-thru if I’m not in a car.”
I took a few dollars from him; he thanked me profusely, and then he walked to a spot across the parking lot. Several minutes later, I delivered his food and a few extras, sat down, and got to know Constantine.
Much of what we shared should remain private, but it’s certainly true that he’s had some bad luck lately. Still, the judgment he sometimes feels from people in situations like this is even colder than our December nights.
I confessed to Constantine that I was as guilty of judging as anyone.
A little while later, I gave him a short ride and we wished each other well. He could not have been more gracious and grateful.
This new friendship makes me wonder if we’re too quick to assume folks we cross paths with like Constantine always have some ulterior motive. Do I? Do you?
The truth is maybe all they need is to just be seen.
I’m grateful to Constantine for the reminder that it’s usually not that complicated. Instead of quick looks and snap judgments, we should simply see and love.
I know I can do better. And I suspect maybe we all can.
God bless, Constantine.
Check out Jason’s upcoming book, Even the Dog Knows, releasing on March 8, 2022.