I went to go get waxed this morning.
When I parked, I gathered up little pieces of trash to throw away the same way I do every time I get out of my car.
On the sidewalk I saw a bench and a green metal trash can. I threw my trash in it, and turned to walk into the wax place.
There was an unhoused gentleman sitting on the bench next to the trash can, and when I walked away, he started yelling.
“What the fuck are you doing, lady? This isn’t a fucking trash can!”
I turned to look back at him and realized what I thought was a trash can was actually a container he was using to hold all of his stuff.
I immediately felt like shit.
I walked back over to him and began apologizing profusely.
“I am so sorry,” I said.
“I saw what I thought was a trash can and threw that stuff in there without even looking. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
His demeanor immediately softened, and I found myself wishing I had cash on me to give to him, but I legit never carry cash.
It didn’t matter. He smiled at me and said, “It’s OK. I understand.”
I apologized again and started walking away.
Another older gentleman witnessed the whole thing, and he said to me, “Did you throw your trash in his basket? ‘
“Yeah,” I said, still embarrassed.
“It’s not your fault. The way it’s sitting there next to the bench, it looks like a trash can.”
“I still feel really bad,” I said.
All I could think was, imagine being unhoused and someone comes and tosses their trash in your stuff.
I’m super glad it was just a straw wrapper, the paper from my banana bread from Starbucks, and a napkin.
I still had espresso in my cup, or it could have been worse.