Don’t be offended by his appearance. Living on the street, sleeping on park benches, makes it hard to be presentable, but he keeps his body clean. It is a source of pride for him. They unlock the bathrooms at the marina at seven o’clock and you can find him there performing his daily ministrations.
You needn’t be concerned that he will harm you. He won’t. He’s seen so much pain, been victimized by too many to hurt a fly.
He has to know the intentions of your heart before he’ll let you help him so be careful how you approach him or he’ll hop on that old bicycle of his and ride away. It’s best to bring a cup of coffee with you when you come. Stand about five feet away and softly but casually ask him to join you. He will watch you carefully. If you make a sudden move, he’ll be gone.
You won’t get much conversation from Coffee Man. He’s not the talking kind. But if he does open up to you, it’s best not to ask too many questions. He’ll tell you what he wants you to know.
Early mornings before the sun would rise; Coffee Man and I would be the only ones at the marina. He would sense my presence and sit up, watching always watching. I would watch him too after all; it could be a little scary in the predawn hours. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. But soon, we became comfortable knowing there was another on the bay; watching. I, for the sun to rise and he for the gatekeeper who would unlock the bathroom door. Soon, I began bringing an extra cup of coffee. One for me. One for him, strong with a touch of milk and plenty of sugar.
When it was time for me to move on, he and I went to the coffee shop he liked. The only shop that would let a man who looked like him stay for a minute. I gave the old man who ran the shop some money.
“This is for him,” I said. “Make sure he has a cup of coffee each morning. Make it strong, with a touch of milk and add plenty of sugar.”
I received a text message Christmas Day. It was sweet but it broke my heart. I heard from Coffee Man, wishing me and my family a Merry Christmas.
I was glad to hear from him. I wanted to know that he was okay because I want everyone in my world to be happy. That’s naïve. That’s not going to happen. But that’s what I want. That’s what I pray for.
Coffee Man is still outside. He’s sick and he’s lost a lot of weight. He told me that he had been beaten, his front teeth knocked out and his bicycle and his coat stolen. He told me that he was cold, so cold.
If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man. Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm. See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements. If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee. He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.
I know he needs so much more, but one cup of coffee will warm him up for the day ahead.
God will do the rest, if you pray with me.