Panhandling & Taco Bell

As we walked to my car [well, not my car, but the car I was borrowing], Taylor said these words to me,  “… I have to tell you something, I have been a heroin addict for five years, I just couldn’t leave without being honest with you.”

Amongst other things, Taylor was homeless, seeking recovery, & facing jail time when I met him.

This is how Taylor and I started our friendship… “Hey man, I have 22 bucks and I am trying to stay in a hotel tonight over on Apache that costs $28… can you help me out with a few bucks?” I replied like I would to anyone who asked that question, “I am not going to give you any cash, but I can give you a ride over there, if you’d like.”

He agreed to the ride from Scottsdale to Tempe.

On our way down Rural Rd. I asked Taylor if he was hungry and he told me that he hadn’t eaten anything since the morning, so I gave him a few options as we approached an intersection that was littered with fast food joints.

He chose Taco Bell.

As we sat down before our feast of Beefy 5 Layer burritos, I asked Taylor if I could pray for our food before we started, to which he verbally agreed, but the look on his face said, “WTF, this dude prays?!”

…Amen.

Diving into our dinner, I started asking him questions in hopes to really have an opportunity to hear his story, or at least as much as he would share with a complete stranger. Our conversation flowed smoothly, like water of mossy stones and we only paused to take a bite of our ever-so-nutritional dinner. I learned so much about Taylor, a 25-year-old who was adopted by a very successful business man and his wife, who wished their boy would grow up to be… you know, a doctor or lawyer or something “successful” like that.

Unfortunately for Taylor’s relationship with his father, he wants to be a mechanic.

This chasm in their relationship has created a tornado of insecurities for Taylor, who feels inadequate in everything he does or has ever attempted, according to his side of the story… “I have just always felt like nothing I do is good enough, and it’s because of this that I am not really motivated to be a better person.”

One of my favorite parts of sharing life stories with someone is finding the similarities in the details that would otherwise be missed in general conversation, which is what led me to discover a great deal of things that Taylor had not shared with anyone in a long time.“I have a bad temper” he told me, “but… I don’t hit people, but I hit things.” A little further into our time together, he told me that he has to go to court for hitting his girlfriends ex-boyfriend in the mouth.

This is usually how we tell our stories… we tell people enough to let them feel like they know us, until we trust them, even a little bit, then the deeper truth comes out.

Taylor’s successful business man for a father was also a church going Christian, who used his faith to abuse Taylor, rather than to love him, which led to a progressive rebellion fueled by alcoholism.

Something Taylor admitted to without hesitation.

I had the pleasure of sharing some specific details of my story with Taylor over dinner, which for me is so much fun because of what happens next in the story…

We crumbled up our burrito wrappers with a pile of empty salsa packets, grabbed our belongs and headed out.  As we walked to my car [well, not my car, but the car I was borrowing], Taylor said these words to me,  “… I have to tell you something, I have been a heroin addict for five years, I just couldn’t leave without being honest with you.”

After only an hour of knowing one another, Taylor trusted me.

If you are willing, it doesn’t take long for one human heart to trust another… Ultimately, I believe that honesty provokes honesty, because we know vulnerability when we experience it due to our uncanny ability to wade through the BS.

Be willing.

Learn someone’s story by sharing yours; it’s scary, but worth it.

P.S. Please keep Taylor in your prayers, he is currently in jail for aggravated assault and a warrant that caught up with him, and he is surely battling the physical withdrawals from heroin and alcohol. Thank you.

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