As some of you know, a portion of the profits from my true crime book, REPEAT OFFENDER, will be given to The Rape Crisis Center of Las Vegas. The Rape Crisis Center has been gracious in honoring my request to earmark the money for victims of child sex abuse to receive counseling services. When you read REPEAT OFFENDER, you’ll understand why.
Some have said, “Why do you care? You’re a writer, and yeah, I know you’re a cop, but why would you want to give the fruits of your labor to anybody?” or “You’ve worked your tail off on that book. If it were me, I’d keep every penny for myself.”
I’ve sat back and asked myself those same questions from time to time throughout my life. You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve stepped outside the box and done something for others. You’re probably no stranger to it either. But in fact, me being a lifelong cop has something to do with my inner desire to help people. It reflects something inside me since I was just a kid.
I’ve never really been able to go BIG and give anyone something that really changed their lives, but I’ve spent many years listening for the voice that tells me to give when I’m able. It would be pretty cool to be mega-rich and spend the rest of my life looking for deserving people to be kind to, but I think that’s a dangerous trap where the giving might be about me, and not about THEM.
Even speaking about giving is uncomfortable to me. It kinda feels like bragging, which is akin to being a fool. However, sometimes speaking about giving, and more importantly, what our motivations to give are, can have purpose and encourage other people to follow suit. I’m not going to get all preachy here on you, but there was a guy a couple thousand years ago that I think of from time to time, who gave me a pretty good model on how to be more selfless every day.
I blogged about this on my own blog, Nickell’s Corner a couple of months ago, before I even knew I would be partnering with The Rape Crisis Center. It seems to have a level of importance once again and I’d like to share that with you. And don’t forget to buy your copy of REPEAT OFFENDER. I’d love it if you would help me help people in need.
Do you ever feel led to do something for another out of the blue? It doesn’t have to be something huge, it might be something small. Do you ever listen to that voice? I did today.
I wasn’t going to tell this story, because I don’t like how it comes off–I think people who tell others about when they’ve been generous or kind, have received their reward in full the minute they open their mouth about it. But, I’ve decided to tell you about this for one reason only: to encourage as many of you as I can to listen to that voice when it speaks.
Today, I was in downtown Vegas, wearing blue jeans, a polo shirt and a torn up old windbreaker jacket that I don’t ever seem to replace. I had all of my good stuff covered up…you know, the police stuff.
I was driving by a 7-Eleven store and just down the street, I saw four homeless guys sitting in a rocked area on the side of a building. They were just camped out there, sharing a 2-liter bottle of root beer and some Cheetos.
All of a sudden, I thought, “Cheeseburgers.”
So I went down the street to Burger King and bought a bag full of cheeseburgers. Not just the cheapo-dollar-menu cheeseburgers, I got double burgers with bacon.
I drove back to where the guys were hanging out, stepped from my car and walked over. They were a little worse for wear, and I could tell all four of them had been on the streets a long time. A lot of the time, there’s some level of mental disorder with some of the homeless folks, so I knew I had to be at least a little careful. But I wanted to just be ordinary. I didn’t even tell them I was a cop until I was getting ready to leave.
I sat down in the rocks with these guys for about forty minutes, shooting the breeze while we chomped down our cheeseburgers. It gave me an opportunity to tell them how thankful I am that God has blessed me well enough, that I could pass some of that on to others, even if it’s just a bag of cheeseburgers. I’ve wished for riches in the past so I could really bless others, but this cheeseburger supper met any of those hopes just as deeply.
I’m betting these fellas loved the cheeseburgers, but you know what? I bet they loved the time and conversation even more. They knew I was just some random guy, not homeless, not rich, and I chose to be with them for a little while. I’m hoping it made them feel a little bit “normal” at least for a few moments…whatever normal is.
Our little powwow was cut short when a homeless woman named Kathy (who I’ve also never met before), came up and accused me of being a cop. How dare she!
Kathy blew my cover in the first thirty seconds she was there. Seeing as how she was a little drunk, not a small girl, and told me she doesn’t like cops, I figured I had better pack up and go. The boys started jawing at her and I figured there was no sense in a fight starting over me. Plus, I didn’t have any more cheeseburgers to share with her.
The look on the faces of the homeless guys when I confessed I was a cop was priceless. I’m pretty sure one of the guys even started to tear up. I shook each man’s hand and even got Kathy to smile with a joke, then made my way back to my car and drove away.
So here’s to Jeff, Jeff, Jason and George. Oh, and Kathy too, I guess. Stay warm tonight, and thanks for making my day. I’m fairly certain I got more out of giving than I gave. I like how that works backwards.