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.