Under a Bridge

Under The BridgePhotography by D. Plasman

The MacDonald’s on Main Street in Elkhart, Indiana, is always busy on Mondays. On Mondays, the coffee is free. I heard somewhere that in a blind taste test MacDonald’s coffee beat out Starbucks. Don’t know if that’s true, but a 12-ounce cup under the golden arches is a dollar cheaper than the same size coming from Seattle; two dollars cheaper on Mondays. I stop in maybe twice a month, not so much for the coffee but for the WiFi, which also is free, and reliable.

To get to this particular MacDonald’s, I often walk the indirect route that takes me along the river and under several pedestrian bridges. That’s where I took this photo—one of several makeshift sleeping quarters. I’m pretty sure some of the people I see at MacDonald’s on Mondays are not unacquainted with these beds of last resort.

I count myself as one who believes corporations do not have hearts. When MacDonald’s recently announced that within a couple of years the chicken they serve with be free of antibiotics, it wasn’t out of compassion for chickens or humans that the Oakbrook, IL-based company changed its way of doing things. It was strictly a business decision, which, in the long run, will prove profitable for the bottom line. And that, as we all know, makes stockholders happy.

I have to believe that the management at the MacDonald’s on Main Street in Elkhart knows that free coffee on Mondays attracts a crowd of homeless folks and street people. I far as I can tell, those customers receive the same courteous service I receive.

I can’t think of a single solution that will solve the problem of homelessness in America. A few years back, novelist John Grisham wrote a “My Turn” piece in Newsweek magazine. Lamenting America’s punitive approach to those forced to live on the streets and under bridges, Grisham remarked, “Everyone has to be somewhere. The problem of homelessness is not solved by removing the victims from our view. The issue borders on the brink of hopelessness.”

Once describing himself as one who has nowhere to lay his head, Jesus was quick to remind his followers that whoever offers them a cup of cold water will unleash the gratitude of God. I have no reason to doubt that the one who had nowhere to lay his head would say the same about a free cup of coffee.

 

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