Bob: Hey - how do you like that chicken? I don't like the coating...I took it off before I ate my piece.
Me: I don't eat chicken, but the potato salad is delicious!
Bob: Not enough pickles in there for me. I'm a chef and that's not the way I would make it. But it's not bad, I guess.
That was my introduction to Bob, a chef from St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana - one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. I met him on September 11, 2005 at the Houston Astrodome.
You can't get a good cup of coffee in here, so I decided to buy a pot and brew it myself. And then I realized that was kind of selfish if I was to have good coffee and no one else could, so I took my Social Security check and bought this [commercial] coffee maker. It's good, huh? I'm using a blend of 1/2 Starbucks and 1/2 Folgers. I bet those people would be real mad at me if they knew, but how they ever gonna know?
Bob was passing through Houston as an evacuee. His plans were to move on to Corpus Christi, TX after his stay at the Astrodome. He was hoping to work as a chef again. His fellow evacuees and volunteer workers revealed that Bob was in poor health and they were concerned about him.
I knew I had to do something. Today is a hard day for me. If I wasn't making coffee, I would have spent my Social Security money sitting in a bar somewhere all day. I lost my wife four years ago today.I put my arm around Bob's shoulder as he pulled out his wallet and showed me a picture of a beautiful Asian woman, smiling for the camera.
I lost her in New York on September 11.