Monday, October 09, 2006

living water

Water clarity, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
The picture has little to do with this blog, I guess it is just a reminder of how a crystal clear image gets distorted so easily.

Earlier today a guy walked into our cafe. He had been here a couple of times before. He entered with a lit cigarette, and so I had to let him know that there was no smoking inside the establishment. He went outside and finished his cigarette.

He came back in, and he asked the question he has asked on two other occasions, "What is this place?"

The first time he asked that question, he asked for my friend Eric's shirt.

The second time he asked that question, he tried to steal money from the cafe. When he was caught, he begged my friend Aaron not to turn him in. He said he was down on his luck, and that he was a vietnam vet. I'm not sure how either of those statements justified trying to walk out with money.

Today, I caught him stealing again. I let him leave through the side door. And then I followed him out. He had dropped some change in our cash box, and poured himself a cup of coffee. I asked him how the coffee tasted. And then I asked him if he took any money. He assured me he didn't.

I gestured to his hand. I asked him where that came from. He told me it was just a dollar. I asked him if he took it from us. He told me that he did and that he was sorry. Again, he begged me not to turn him in, that he was down on his luck. I told him that we weren't going to turn him in but I reminded him that this was the second time he had stolen from us. I also reminded him of how someone had given him their shirt. And then I asked him why he stole from us. I asked him this same question repeatedly actually.

He told me the bank was closed, and he really needed the dollar. Then he told me he didn't know why he did it. Then he told me had been drinking, and didn't know why he took the dollar. Then he told me he needed the dollar to make a phone call to his AA sponsor. Then he told me that he had lost a lot of money gambling and that he really needed this dollar. Then he told me that he needed to use the dollar to make some phone calls as a result of his gambling. All the while he grew more and more angry with me.

Then he started screaming that Jesus Christ had forgiven him and asked me if I could forgive him. I told him that I had forgiven him, but that I still wanted to know why he stole the dollar.

He said he was sixty years old, and he started to ask me how old I was. Before I could answer, he told me he was a vet. Then he tried to make me feel bad by asking if I had served in viet nam. Then he said I probably wasn't a vet at all. I agreed with him.

Then I asked him why he lied to me about the money and why he took it.

He kept saying that he was going to walk away from me, but for some reason he couldn't. It was very strange. I think he really wanted to be honest, but he had spent so much time lying to people he couldn't do it.

As frustrated as I was by the cleptomania he has demonstrated, I was more broken by the fact that this guy had become so distorted by lies, he found himself incapable of telling the truth to me about why he stole from us twice.

It's really sad to think that we are all walking around believing lies about ourselves, and about other people. It's really sad to think that people don't feel safe around each other. It's really sad the lies we seem to be satisfied believing.

Ravi Zacharias once stated, "To be handcuffed by a lie is the worst of all imprisonments." I would have to agree.


Kara A said...

Sadder still is that he has probably convinced himself on some level that everything he told you was "true" because he's been surviving that way so long. Interesting blog. I miss Morgantown and the people from the 'ridge.

Pam's Place said...

Amazing story. I bet the guy has some for of mental illness and not on his meds...I've seen this as a nurse. I pray that you can reach him. God Bless