Coffee & Donuts

posted in: Chicago, Day In The Life 13
One country, under fried dough. Image: Wikipedia.
One country, under fried dough. Image: Wikipedia.


My heart was tugged hard today, walking up Wabash Avenue.

There’s a Dunkin Donuts-cum-Baskin Robbins on the corner of Wabash and Polk, here in Chicago’s South Loop. It’s funny; I’ve never been inside. In over five years of living in this neighborhood, I’ve never gone inside and I don’t understand how this is possible, seeing as how I like donuts, ice cream, and coffee that tastes like ice cream — which is the only kind of coffee they serve at these places and really, the only kind of coffee one should order at a donut shop that sells triple-dipped waffle cones with sprinkles and hot fudge.

So I’m walking north to an appointment with my shrink* and I see two city characters engaged in an important moment. I believe I was seeing a businessman interacting with a homeless person. This is only conjecture, but the businessman-looking guy was clean-shaven and wearing a tie and a button-down shirt and he had clearly taken a shower within the past two hours, so I think it’s a safe bet he was some kind of professional-ish person.

The other guy was too thin. He was wearing soiled clothes. I don’t suppose he had eaten a hot meal or had a bath in awhile. Again, this is all hypothetical. But the interaction I witnessed, that much was clear:

The businessman came out of the donut-ice cream shop and handed the other guy a cup of hot coffee (large) and a paper bag full of probably four or five donuts or maybe a couple-three breakfast sandwiches. As I walked past the two of them, I heard the businessman say, “Here you go, buddy.” Then, I heard the homeless guy go, “Thank you, thank you so much. God bless you. Thank you.”

So a guy, headed to work, went into Dunkin Donuts for his breakfast. As he went in, he saw a guy who needed a breakfast. He bought himself a breakfast. And then he bought the needy man a breakfast. And I got to see the hand-off. And I blinked tears back all the way to Congress Avenue.

Obviously, there are very good reasons to live in a small town. And there are innumerable acts of charity and goodwill happening every second of every day in towns of all sizes across this country and around the world. But there is a particular brand of brotherly and sisterly love that takes place, and takes root, in the city.

It’s not all cement and traffic. It’s donuts and coffee, too.



13 Responses

  1. Cathryn McBride
    | Reply

    I really love your articles and your writing just flows. I admit I started following your blog because I am a quilter and your mom has always been one of my favourite instructors.
    Your keen sense of observation and the way you can translate that to words is really special.
    Thank you and keep up the great work

    • Kath
      | Reply

      So well put, all I need to say is “Agreed!”

  2. Jo Chalk
    | Reply

    Thank you Mary, I needed that positive scene this morning!

  3. Denise
    | Reply

    Thank you for the reminder, Mary.

  4. Linda
    | Reply

    Love you Mary Fons. Your story’s are heart warming

  5. Lisa
    | Reply

    What a great way to start your day. There is good all around. Great story to hear about my home “town”.

  6. rita penner
    | Reply

    Are you inviting comment about the shrink? No comment about that at all. Everyone needs someone to talk to. I do constantly wonder however, with your digestive troubles, how you continue to eat sugar and dairy??? For those that love you, perhaps you could explain.

  7. Michele
    | Reply

    Well, there certainly is no shame in seeing a shrink. Not that you indicated any shame . I am looking forward to you writing about your shrink encounters – those you would like to share. Your ability to express yourself and write it down makes for some excellent reading.. And regarding the post you were lucky to witness humanity. I know it is around but we do not always see it.

  8. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Years ago we started a food bank in honor of a woman who had a generous heart and loving heart. I was lucky, she loved me and called me ‘sweetie’. Our Pastor loved Dorothy too, everyone did. She reminded us what Jesus said, ‘If you give a cup in my name you give it unto me’. We need to be generous, there are so many people who need a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich.

  9. Michele
    | Reply

    I found you because I’ve become a quilter. I read Papergirl because you have an eye for truth and magic in your words. Thanks for this vignette. You touched my heart this morning, Mary.

  10. Barbara
    | Reply

    I just wrote a check for the Harvey Relief Fund to bring to the BIG Y, came over to the computer and read your ‘coffee and donuts’. It feels so good to help, it really does.

  11. Neame
    | Reply

    I was feelin’ quite off on humanity in general today when I chanced on this article. Thank you, Mary. Just thing to help restore my faith in my fellow man. I forget there are good folk.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      xoxoxo, Neame. I got’choo.

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