Entry #16: Maybe he's not like that.


Becca has been out sick and I've missed her. I called her once and her mother answered. She said that Becca was sleeping and that she'd give her the message. But Becca didn't call back. I wonder if everything is all right.

I was skating down town and almost ran into this homeless guy who was sleeping in a doorway. I'd seen this guy before around the same street corner. He wears jeans and a leather jacket and a red cap. Even if it's 80 degrees out, that's what he always wears. Next to him was this shopping cart packed with all kinds of stuff. You can't really tell what it's packed with because everything in the cart is covered by black plastic and the whole thing is tied up like some huge bundle of who knows what. The other times I've seen him, he's sitting there talking to anybody who passes by. I don't know if he is drunk, or on drugs or what. Maybe he's just confused, because he always says the same thing. "Spare change for some food, man? I'm really hungry and my dog hasn't eaten in a week. Spare change, man?" I've never seen a dog anywhere near him.

Like I said, today he was sleeping and taped to the front of the cart was a piece of cardboard with lettering on it. It said:

"I may look like I'm sleeping, but I'm really praying for your soul. If you help me out, God will bless you!"

Next to his feet was a used paper cup with some coins in it.

I walked past him a little ways and stopped. Even at 20 feet I could smell him. Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. I didn't want to look at him or even think about what it must be like to spend the night sleeping on the street. Then I thought about it. It must be cold and scary. I felt sorry for him. I turned back toward the guy just as two well dressed woman walked past him carrying shopping bags from Newton's, the upscale shop across the street. This is what they were saying:

"I swear I just don't understand people like that. If he's hungry why doesn't he get a job!"

"Don't be silly, Beth. Those people don't want to work. They just want to beg for money and use it for drugs."

Was that true, I wondered? I mean, I've heard lots of people say that, but it can't possibly be true for every homeless person. I'm not saying that I'd want to give money to some drug addict so he could go and get high, but what if this guy in the red cap wasn't like that? What if he tried to get a job and for some reason couldn't? Or maybe he had a job and got fired? Maybe he's sick. Or mentally ill. Maybe his house burned down and he lost everything. What happens to people like that?

I reached into my pocket and dug out a quarter and a couple of dimes. I walked back to the guy in the doorway and dropped the money in his cup.

"Thank you, son and God bless you," he said whispered without ever opening his eyes.

"You're welcome." I muttered then hurried away.




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