A Small Cheese Pizza MAG

January 6, 2012
By Rachel Bottino BRONZE, Shirley, Massachusetts
Rachel Bottino BRONZE, Shirley, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It was a bitter cold November day with a biting wind. My mom and I entered Papa Gino’s in a hurry to get away from the harsh weather. Mom ordered a pizza and I found a cozy booth near the heater. As I gazed around the room, a homeless man was sitting at a corner table in the restaurant. For some reason – I’m still not sure why – he intrigued me.

I studied him, absorbing every detail. Growing up, I was taught never to stare, but the temptation was overwhelming. Because of the way his knees grazed the bottom of the tabletop, it was evident that he was tall. His clothes were filthy. Even though he was wearing endless layers of clothing, he looked as though he weighed nothing. A mass of tangled hair, thick as a lion’s mane, covered most of his face and a shaggy, knotted beard covered the rest. I focused on his eyes because they were the only part I could see.

His eyes were transfixed, almost hypnotized by the steam that curled up from the coffee cup sitting on the middle of the table. An employee came over and gave him a small cheese pizza. What I saw next would change my whole perspective on life.

The man looked at that pizza as if it were the most precious thing in the world. He didn’t touch it at first, almost like a person who has a priceless object and is afraid to touch it because it may break. He stared at that pizza like it was made of gold. When he finally decided to eat it, he didn’t grab a slice and devour it like one may expect. He ate unusually slowly, savoring every bite that the cheese pizza had to offer.

When we got our pizza, my mom placed it in the middle of the table and started eating. She couldn’t see the man from where she was sitting and asked me why I wasn’t eating. I nodded my head toward the man and she turned. When she saw him, she understood. That circular piece of dough in the middle of our table looked different. It wasn’t just an inexpensive supper anymore. People think of pizza as a matter-of-fact thing that has no significance whatsoever. But now, after seeing this man, something as simple as a small cheese pizza was suddenly so complicated.

I was drawn to this man not out of pity, but curiosity. I wanted to know who he was. I wanted to know what was going on in his mind. He is a human being, like everyone else, but is looked at as though he is incapable of having feelings and thoughts. People look at him and see a lost cause. But I saw a soul waiting to be found.

I watched him as he got up to leave. He finished the last of his coffee and headed toward the door. As the door opened, a gust of frigid cold air rushed into the store. Holding his collar tight around his neck and bowing his head against the snapping wind, he walked through the parking lot out of sight.

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