There is this homeless guy who panhandles near an underpass near where I work. I have passed by him many times and often wondered what his story was? As I pass by I cannot tell how old he is since he is usually sitting with his eyes cast down at the road.
One day I was stopped at the light, my car sitting right in front of him, and something compelled me to help this person. I opened by change compartment in my car and I had a few dollar bills in there. I quickly rolled my window down and put my hand out the window and I said hello. He got up and came to my window and extended his hand and took the money. He looked up at me with his young face and as he took the money from my hand I looked into his eyes and he had the most beautiful blue eyes. This young man could have been not much older than my own 23 year old son.
He seemed to have so much shame on his face for what he was doing. I am not sure why but I felt a connection with this person. When I had come back to work and was talking to some co-workers about him. I was surprised to learn that others in the office had also given a gift of money or food/drink to this person. We started talking about him and wondering what his name was and what had happened to him to put him in this situation.
One of the other ladies in the office stopped a couple days later and asked him his name and he told her his name was Bill. Immediately, it gave this man some identity. There are so many questions. Why was he homeless? Where was his family? What had happened to him so bad that it put him in this situation? Why was there no one to help him? Where was his mom?
Now there are those who call me a sucker by giving in to this person. “Why doesn’t he just get a job?” “I am sure he has a nice big house somewhere.” “He is just lazy.”
I don’t consider myself one to be taken advantage of easily. However, does it really matter? Isn’t the act of doing a good deed not only to help others but to make yourself feel good and pay it forward? So many people are quick to say “Oh they are only going to by booze or drugs.” Well hell, I don’t know I suppose if I were in that situation I might want to do the same thing to try and forget my situation. I am sure getting a job is probably not easy either. As a business owner if someone came to me dirty with ripped clothing and rotted teeth, I would not take them seriously. If they don’t have transportation, how are they going to get to work? If they don’t have a phone, how do I reach them for an interview? If they don’t have a home, how do they come to work presentable, showered and clean? I think this is a catch 22.
Anyway, my point is, I feel we are all only one bad decision or one major life altering event away from living on the streets ourselves. It could happen to anyone. I for one, would hope I would feel some compassion and maybe receive a warm drink or blanket from a passerby and not be judged for my situation.
I am fortunate to live the life that I live. If I can spread just a little joy to someone in need if only for a brief moment, I will sleep better at night.
– Joni Walton
“Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
― Mike Yankoski