Costco Discounts, The Homeless and What It Means To Be Acknowledged As A Human Being

meadow in the middle of the forest

The sky was overcast.

Rain had splattered the pavement like a million paintballers on an unlimited budget. Now, drops fell a  few at a time.

“We’re early,” I told mom as we pulled into a parking spot. Early was the operative word when it came to the Bellingham Costco. Shoppers jostled like Guns n Roses fans around the closed warehouse door.

I decided not to fight the crowds. Neither was I going to enlighten them on what exactly they were jostling in line for  –

  • Cardboard boxes filled with cereal.
  • Rows of garlic dill pickles.
  • Bundles of white socks.

But, hey, maybe that’s how they rocked out. Buying bulk items at low prices.

Mom and I walked past the crazed masses and sat down on the edge of a cement planter by the side of the store.

We weren’t the only ones.

A woman sat under the branches of the maple tree on the edge of the planter. In front of her, a shopping cart awaited her next move. Its silver tarp covered contents piled high and wide.

“What are all the people here for,” she asked. I stared at the red sores scattered across her face like chicken pox. Then, I caught myself.

“Costco,” I said, my face turning red at my rude behavior, “The place opens in ten minutes.”

She smiled slightly and gazed at the cloud-darkened mountains in the distance.

“Wonder if it’s going to keep raining.”

There was stillness in her wide, pale features. A stillness that made me think of a meadow in the middle of the forest. No one else around.

It the short time we waited for Costco to open, I learned

  1. this woman was from the Midwest.
  2. She didn’t like the heat in that area of the country.
  3. It seemed, she didn’t mind the Washington rain .

Beneath multiple layers of clothing and behind the wieldy cart with its plastic outdoor chair strapped to the side, this woman emanated a strong sense of self.

I asked if I could interview her.

She declined.

And, rightly so.

She was more than a story.

She was creature with feelings, with hopes and dreams.

Underneath the jumbled layers of unfortunate events, she was an exquisite creation of God.

A human being.

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