Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

HOMELESS IN THE CITY
As I walk downtown, I make it a point to be nice to the homeless people. For the past several years I’ve found a dime every day, usually on the street or sidewalk, so I usually have a dime in my pocket to give to one person who is asking for bus fare or money for food. That little act lets me feel good about myself for doing what little I can to help the downtrodden. Seldom do I ever wonder how that homeless person came to be homeless.
Yesterday I was returning from the suburbs, having spent several days helping do yard work. I committed to the laborious project, and when I left I took only my backpack with a pair of shorts, a couple of T-shirts and pajamas. I shoveled dirt, spent hours bent over planting flowers, then shoveled some more dirt. I was tired and dirty when Tim dropped me off at the light rail station to return home. I had my backpack, a grocery bag full of random items I had acquired from Tim and the family, including a really cool tea pot, along with things that wouldn’t fit in my backpack, like my leather jacket and my tennis shoes.
I got off the train at Union Station, and with a bit of a chill in the air I donned my leather jacket and started the long walk home. I pansied out and decided to stop on a corner and wait for the mall bus to come along to take me a few blocks closer to my destination. I dug for something in my bag, and as I stood up it seemed to me that people were looking at me a little weird. I smiled at a few passersby and they ignored me, nothing new in the city. But then I realized that some of them may have thought I was homeless.
My legs were covered with dirt from working, my shorts were dirty, my T-shirt was wrinkled, and I was wearing a leather jacket. My fingernails were dark from the dirt I hadn’t scrubbed off yet, opting to hold the shower until I was home and could soak in a tub properly. My shoes were filthy, and I was carrying two bags full of random belongings, one of which I was digging through looking for food. I looked up and down the street and saw several homeless—or I assumed they were homeless—people sitting on the sidewalk, propped up against the store walls, their bags of belongings spread out alongside them. People were passing me with looks that I did whenever I passed one of those people.
I was horrified. I don’t really know why, because it’s not like I knew any of the people passing by, and had no reason to care what they thought about me. But suddenly I wanted to start shouting “I’m not homeless! I’ve been working! I’m just heading home to take a shower! Please don’t judge me!”
But I didn’t. I readjusted my bags, lifted my head, and began marching home, making a point of looking directly into the eyes of everyone I passed. I felt strangely helpless. What if I were homeless? What if my entire life depended on asking strangers for change to feed myself? Where would I sleep?
And as I looked around at the downtrodden on the street, I realized that most of them had something in common. They were old. They had gray hair and feeble bodies. They didn’t look like they were even well enough to welcome customers at Walmart. They were out of options. And I wondered how, in a world that claims to live their lives by the word of God, or a higher power, could allow our old people to fall into this state.

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May 11, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Were you wearing those grey shorts by chance?

    Comment by jess | May 17, 2011 | Reply


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