Doug Tales 114: Just a Friend

This experience of Doug Mendenhall’s from his book Possibilities: Lesson From the Spirit (2002), pp. 59-60 was also talked about at his funeral services in December 2020:

One time Denise and I went to pick up my oldest son at work. It was around ten o’clock at night. He worked at a mini-mart in an area of town I didn’t enjoy being in after dark, so we sat in the truck waiting for him to come out after work. In front of the store was a man who looked homeless. He had his sleeping bag and backpack on the ground beside him. He was standing there preaching about God and calling everyone that walked by to repentance. Denise asked me what he was doing and why he was doing it. I told her he appeared to be a little drunk and seemed to be calling everyone to repentance. We sat and watched in amused silence.

All of a sudden he quit what he was doing, picked up his belongings and walked toward our truck. Just then my son came out of the store and got in the truck. The man came up to the window and asked if we had any money. We emptied our pockets, the ash tray, and looked on the floor. We came up with 63 cents. I handed it to him and said that was all we had. He looked at it and at us and said it wouldn’t even buy him a hamburger at the McDonald’s across the street. I apologized and said that was all we had. He just stood there.

I got out of the truck and talked to him a minute. He smelled of booze and had very bloodshot eyes. Finally, he asked if we could take him somewhere.

“Sure,” I said.

“Will you take me to the hospital?” he asked. I told him we would. I helped him get in the back of the truck and told him to scoot up to the front of the cab, as it was very cold outside. In fact it was snowing a little. He got situated and we took off.

We took him to the hospital emergency room. I got out and helped him get out of the truck. We talked for a minute. He told me he was from back East and down on his luck. He wanted to get off the booze and that’s why he asked me to be brought to the hospital. We stood there and chatted for a few more minutes. I found out he was “human.” I also found something I had only experienced a few times before, an unconditional love for him. I understood that he is a child of God, just like I am.

As I started to walk off, he stopped me and asked who I was. “Just a friend,” was the only response I could think of. He hugged me and said thanks. He said people don’t usually treat him nice. I gave him the only thing I had besides that 63 cents, my love in the form of a hug. Then I got in the truck and drove off as he walked into the hospital.

It was fun to be an “angel” for a few moments.