Started Out With A Traffic Ticket And Ended Up With A Newfound Outlook

Yesterday, I got completely rocked.

On the way home from school, I got pulled over for using my phone (I know, I know…), but it may have been the best first ticket ever. As I starting crying (again, I know, I know) over my ticket, I hear ‘Ms. Ham!’ A student, who I did not recognize immediately, stopped in his tracks and asked about the citation. I confessed and told him that I couldn’t speak, because I was so mortified that I got a ticket. He comforted me and stayed with me.

I kept wondering who this student was- was he a student from the year before, perhaps a current student I did not have? It wasn’t either. He reminded me that he came to my class exactly 1 time because his family was in the ‘middle’ of moving, but the move date could be that day, later this month, or next. School was just out of the question for him and his 5 siblings. Baffled, I inquired about his situation. He was living with his family of 6, now in a motel, 1 street away from my apartment. At the last minute, he asked me if I could get him some Subway since he was hungry. Shaken, no longer by my ticket, but by the realization of my sheer proximity to homelessness, poverty and marginalized people, I eagerly welcomed him into my car.

And so the adventure began. We got a nice meatball marinara footlong, took a trip to Safeway and Wienerschnitzel to buy food for his family. I drop him off at the motel where he was staying and my heart is still heavy. He then makes one last request.

‘Ms. Ham, my mom needs help paying for the room. Do you think you can help?’ My heart breaks. I wanted to give him everything, because here I was crying over spilled milk (which in my case is EASILY cleanable), while my student could barely even survive on the day to day. Food, shelter, safety… all uncertain.

The story doesn’t end. I had 2 tickets to the Warriors game that I was going to sell via Craigslist since my other plans fell through. On the drive back home, I had the opportunity to call him to invite him and a family member to the game that night. He agreed as soon as I asked, and we went to the game together. Then my heart broke yet again. At the game, I asked him if he and his family ate. He said that his family ate the Wienerschitzel. I told him I was glad, but when I asked if he did, he said that his sandwich was still sitting in the microwave. I asked why? He told me, ‘I’m waiting until I am really, really hungry.’ I almost died.

Friends, we are so, so, so blessed that we have the privilege of ‘getting tickets.’ Getting a ticket implies that we have a car to drive, money to cover gas, maintenance, and perhaps the car itself, and phones to use at leisure (though it may be the cause of the ticket). We ask ‘why did I get this ticket’ as opposed to ‘how am I going to pay for this ticket’ or ‘what do I want to eat today’ and ‘which (insert fun and exciting night plans here) should I do tonight’ vs. ‘will I get to eat today,’ ‘where will I sleep tonight’? We are truly blessed.

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