Valentine’s Day at Carl’s Jr.

Happy-belated Valentine’s Day to all of you readers.  I don’t know what you guys did, but I spent the night with a make-shift Mai-tai and Randy Jackson’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.”  Needless to say, it was an extremely fun night…

Valentine’s produces 2 kinds of people: Lovey Doveys and Bitter Bettys.  I know that a lot of people dislike Valentine’s Day.  It’s not really meant for singles, and that evokes a lot of hatred.  It’s like it produces the exact opposite feeling of everything that the day represents.

I realized how important a day like Valentine’s Day should be to everyone that has someone to love.  After work, I stopped in at a Carl’s Jr yesterday, eating a Santa Fe Chicken Salad when I saw 2 guys walk in.  One of them split off to go to the bathroom, opened the door to the Men’s room, starred for a couple seconds and then came back out.  He got went up to his friend and whispered something and then got the attention of a worker, who then walked with both of them towards the bathroom.  Apparently, a homeless man had passed out in the bathroom, and after about a minute, all four of them came out.  As they were coming out, the homeless man gives a pat on the back to the guy who first walked in to the bathroom and says to him, “Don’t worry, bro.  I’m still alive.  Just needed a little nap.”  The worker then gave him a cup of water and later offered him a soda.

The interesting thing was that the guy who first discovered the homeless man in the bathroom was wearing a suit and tie, and the homeless man was dressed like…well…a homeless person.  When the homeless man reached out to pat the suit-guy on the back, I could see the suit-guy sorta pull away, making a facial expression that said, “O wow, this homeless guy is probably really dirty and is now touching my suit.”

At that point, I realized that my Santa Fe Chicken Salad was way bigger than originally anticipated and I kicked myself for ordering the extra Teriyaki Burger.  How could a salad be so filling?  Lettuce is basically just water and fiber.  But that’s when I realized, “O, that’s why it’s so filling.”  Fiber fills.  At least that’s what I’ve read.  So, what should I do with my extra sandwich?  I’m certainly not going to eat it.  I guess I’ll just take it back with me and eat it later.  My midnight hamburger.  It happens more than you think it might.

After this poorly thought-out meal plan runs through my head, the homeless man strikes up a conversation with a random guy waiting for his food.  The homeless man asks the waiting man how he is doing and they exchange a few words.  The waiting-for-food man was extremely nice to him, and gave a much more positive response than I think many people would have given.  He was very friendly.  Eventually, the homeless man reaches out his hand and introduces himself and shakes hands with the waiting man.  The homeless man, after shaking hands, says “It’s a pleasure to meet you, bro,” like he was genuinely happy to make a friend.  It was amazing to see 2 totally different people’s reactions to this homeless man.  One was disgust; another was friendly.  The homeless man then reveals that it’s his birthday.  He says that he is now 69.  He asks the guy how hold he is and the waiting man responds with a 45.  “O, you’re still young,” the homeless guy says.  The waiting man says something about how he’s getting older, and makes a comment about how they could both reach 100.  The old man replies, “One day at a time, man.  One day at a time.”

Finally, the waiting-man’s food is ready, so he stands up and then leaves the homeless man in Carl’s, bidding a “take care.”  At that moment, I realized that I was sitting alone, (again, it was a very exciting Valentine’s Day for me) half anxious about the man coming up to me and starting a conversation.  I started eating a little faster and wondering if I should get out my cell phone and call someone.  Or even pretend to talk to someone in for a long enough period of time where I could finish my salad and walk out.

How lame am I?  I would take out my cell phone and have a fake conversation with myself just to avoid talking to someone.  I don’t really care that I was eating by myself in a fast food place.  I know a lot of people think that’s weird or whatever.  Like going to see a movie by yourself.  I don’t see anything wrong with going in there by yourself and eating or watching a movie.  You’d eat by yourself if you were at your house, right?  You’ve watched a movie at your house by yourself, right?  So what’s the difference doing it in public?  I don’t think it’s really embarrassing.  What’s the worst that’s going to happen?  People that you’ll never see again or opinions you don’t care about are going to look at you weird or whisper something about you?  O well.

I suddenly had a flood of ideas going through my head.  “You know what, I should go up to this man, wish him a happy birthday, and give him my sandwich.”  “Don’t make eye contact with him, he’s going to come over here.”  “Ew, the bottom of this salad tastes terrible.”  “Just go talk to him.”  “You should give him a hug.”  “Get out your phone and at least text someone.”  “Cabbage is disgusting.  Why do people eat cabbage?  It so gross.”

I started thinking, “When was the last time this guy received a hug?”  When was the last time he was touched by another human being and was shown he meant something to someone?  At some point, do you forget what it’s like to give and receive a hug?  I think we take for granted the fact that we have someone in our lives who loves us enough to get close enough and give us a hug because we mean that much to them.  They don’t mind how we look or smell.  Maybe how we smell, but a lot of times, that’s temporary.  Regardless, we still have people who will hug us no matter how stinky we are or how dirty we are.  And sooner or later, I think we get to a point where we don’t care if we know the person or not – it’s just nice to receive a hug and hug back.  I’d even take a crappy side hug.  You know, the kind where you just put one arm around someone and squeeze a little bit.  Sometimes the opposite foot kicks out a little bit for leverage.  Like you want to lean in a little bit, but not too much, so you throw that leg out there so you don’t have to move the leg closest to the person.  Some girls do it to guys they think are creepy or don’t want to give the wrong impression to, but don’t want to seem like total jerks when they leave somewhere because they hugged everyone else, and it’d just be impolite to not hug that person also.  I’m sure we’ve done it at one point or another.

But I digest…

Regardless, this man’s past starts running through my mind.  How did he get to where he is now?  Passing out in a Carl’s Jr. on your 69th birthday, with no one to really spend it with except for the worker who gave you a cup of water, guy-in-a-suit and waiting-for-food man.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of people have actually spent their birthday’s passed out in a CJ’s bathroom.  But that’s usually when people get really drunk for their 20-something birthday and they wanted to get a Bacon Western Cheesburger at 11:30 at night.  I can’t say that this has actually happened to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had a “Dude, this one time” tale that followed this same storyline.

At that point, I had just finished the last bite of my salad.  I looked up and saw the homeless man walk back into the bathroom.  Well, crap.  What do I do now?  I can’t just wait here all night until he comes out, and I’m not going to go in there and hand him a sandwich and give him a hug in the bathroom.  At that moment, I made the choice to stand up, leave, and take the sandwich with me.

The whole situation ran through my head off and on for the next hour.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I should have given the man this sandwich.  I shouldn’t have avoided him.  I should have been warm and friendly and inviting instead of trying to figure out ways to avoid him.  He was harmless.  He wasn’t crazy.  He wasn’t unstable.  He was just lonely.  Nothing feels better than getting a gift and a hug on your birthday, even if it is from a stranger.  I should have shown that man that he can still believe in love and kindness.

It’s amazing to me how many people hate the idea of having a day entirely devoted to love.  And it’s a shame that we only celebrate it once a year.  I hope that everyone told at least one person that they loved them yesterday.  I know personally that I should have said it to more people than I did.

Appreciate the people that you have in your life.  Consider yourself lucky and blessed to know the people that you do, regardless of whether you chose those people to be in your life, or they chose you.  Show someone you love them and you appreciate them.  Send someone a card and let them know how much they mean to you.  Send someone a text, but not one of those chain text that are like, “If you don’t pass this on to 10 other people in the next 39 seconds, your day will end horribly and you will never meet your true love.  Happy Valentine’s Day.”  Why would you send that to people?  Do you honestly think that text is going to decide what’s going to happen in your future?  Don’t send that.  Call someone and tell them how important they are.  Give someone a hug.

Spread the love.  Share a hug.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day and remember that we should show people how important they are not only on Feb. 14, but on everyday.

P.S.  I think I might be allergic to something in hamburgers.  Either that or it’s alcohol.  Or maybe it’s the mixture of both.  The right side of my tongue gets swollen for a couple days after I have that combo.  I’m not sure if I’d be too disappointed if it was either one of those things.  They aren’t exactly good for me….

O well.  More research and results on the way….

– Carl’s Valentine


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