Posted by Carl Incognito
Being that I own a bar and restaurant, food and drink are always all around me. Being that my establishment is in Northwest Portland, homeless people are also all around me. Though it’s never enough, I have made a pointed effort to offer a meal to those that cross my path who look like they need it. Sometimes with surprising results.
A few years ago, I was coming back to work in the late evening. I parked my car in our neighbor’s parking lot as I often do after hours. There is a large dumpster in this parking lot and I noticed a young man of 20 something standing in it, foraging around. As I walked past, I stopped and asked him if he had lost something. He stopped, stood up, and curtly said, “I’m looking for something to eat.” I nodded and proceeded inside.
But the walk in was long enough to regret my insensitivity. I went directly into the kitchen and ordered my staff to make me a cheeseburger and fries to go. I thought that would be a nice gesture towards the guy. He obviously needed a meal. Now somewhat excited at the opportunity to give the guy a break, I headed back outside to the dumpster. He was still there, digging around. I said, “Hey man, I didn’t mean to piss you off earlier. I own that establishment right there and I just ordered you some food. I’ll be back with a cheeseburger for you as soon as it’s done.”
He looked at me with somewhat of a smirk. Then, in one of the more condescending tones I had heard in a while, said, “I can’t eat that. I’m a vegan.”
At first I thought he was kidding. It was obvious he wasn’t as he stood there in the dumpster looking down on me. I’m usually not at a loss for words, especially when I perceive wrong, but I simply turned around and went back inside, dumbfounded.
I tell this story somewhat frequently because I feel it’s one of the best representations of the attitude of Portland. Even our would-be beggars feel entitled and aren’t likely to stray from their own “enlightened” principals, which of course are modernly liberal in nature. The possibility of starvation isn’t even enough to make a vegan take a free cheeseburger from a stranger trying to lend a hand. Portland is indeed a weird town, and I don’t think it represents the United States very well at all. And if it ever should, then God help us.