My world has been rocked today. Not in a good way, not in a sexy way but in a sad, eye opening way. I woke up in my feelings and on my way to the post office in JP, I saw a man. Long hair in locks that were becoming one. A beard and mustache that hasn’t been groomed in months. He was pushing a cart full of cans. He was dirty and his face was sad. I was sitting waiting for a light and I just stared at him in awe. In awe, that we have people like this just around the corner from my home. His shorts were shredded, one leg so much so that if they shredded anymore his butt would be exposed. His shoes; one was on the verge of falling to shreds and the other was literally a skeleton of a shoe that used to match the other and was now just a sole; held together by the strings he tied around his ankle. As a person that worked with shoes many years ago I could tell that he favored that side because of the wear on the shoe. He had a slight limp towards the skeleton shoe. He saw me looking at him and he bowed his head in shame as he walked.
I was on Centre st on my way to the post office on South street. If I kept going straight there was a Goodwill store and if I turned around there were a bunch of reasonably priced sub shops but that wasn’t what was on my mind. Just like everyone around him, I just looked at him. But unlike everyone else around him I began to shed tears after he had passed my car. Everyone else walked with their food in their hands as if he were a ghost walking down the street. A little girl looked at him terrified and her mother picked her up and started laughing and whispering in her ear. I am no better though. I did nothing but look at him and feel bad for him. I didn’t pull over, I didn’t open my window to ask if he was hungry, nothing. These were all after thoughts after he was already gone. I promised to buy him food after I had run my errand. Anything he wanted no matter the cost.
I drove back up the street after hitting the post office hoping to find him. It was too late. He was nowhere to be found. But maybe if I would have stopped to ask all the people of the street if they had seen him I could have located him. But I didn’t do that either. I let him slip by. I LET HIM BE ASHAMED OF HIS CIRCUMSTANCE, I LET HIM BE HUNGRY TODAY, I LEFT TO HIM WALK AROUND IN THOSE HORRIBLE SHOES, I LEFT HIM WALKING AROUND WITH SHREDDED SHORTS KNOWING I COULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. Yes, he is homeless and I am pretty damn poor but I don’t know his story and my responsibility as a person that is doing better than he is would be to help him even if it’s just for today.
I am also brainwashed and conditioned to think that I need to think about me and only me and mine. I am conditioned to feel bad but take no action. I am conditioned to think homelessness means THEY were at fault without really knowing what happened. I am conditioned to think that since I have a roof over my head that I am better than a person on the street. My inaction spoke that out loud. My inaction made this man feel uncomfortable, unloved and unimportant. I may have had more compassion for FEELING for this guy than the rest of the people physically walking past him BUT that says nothing because my actions did not show that. I am so sorry that I did not take action to help a fellow PERSON even if it was just for an HOUR. We need to be better, we need to react with our hearts and guts. We as a society could be so much stronger if we were in this together, if we lifted each other up. I fucked up and now i’m at home crying cause I did nothing when I could be crying because I was happy to help….