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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

I refuse to LJ-cut this post

April 24th, 2009 (03:53 pm)

"I'm dead! I'm dead!"

The words came from a grizzled old man in a tan baseball cap, hollering at people through a few crooked yellow teeth. It was a beautiful day out, and I'd gone for a walk on the Commons on my lunch break. The grass was full of people lounging with sunglasses on and backpacks under their heads, or with kids and toys spread around them on blankets; the fountains were on in the Frog Pond, and children leapt through the water.

Until I came across the man I had been thinking how nice it was to be out on a day like this, the weather making everyone a little happier, the people around me getting the same lift I was from the sun and the breeze and the pretty surroundings. I heard the man yelling and my thoughts froze up a little bit, but my feet kept walking. Near me a child asked her mother, "Why is that man yelling?" The mother said comfortingly, "It's all right. He's just talking out loud."

"I'm dead! I'm dead!"

I was maybe twenty feet past him when I stopped, my back to him. The words he was shouting pulled me into a place I didn't want to be in, a dark place with rough walls where the air was dirty and got clogged in your lungs. I stopped because I'd been there before. Oh, I've never been dead. But I know what it is to feel that way. I knew he was shouting at the world that so much of what lived inside him had died that it didn't matter anymore that his body hadn't caught up.

I'm bipolar -- bipolar I, with psychotic features. I don't know if all my readers know that. If you don't you should know it now. I'm crazy, and so was the guy in the park. So I stopped, and looked the other way, and waited to see what I was going to do.

I must have stood there for five minutes, with his shouts of "I'm dead!" ringing out behind me every ten seconds or so. I had been planning on doubling around the park and stopping at McDonald's for a package of apple slices to go with my lunch. I felt in my pocket; one bill. Didn't matter what it was. I couldn't give it to him and still get my apples. And besides, giving him money wouldn't help. He needed a soup kitchen, a place to stay, a hospital. Something.

I looked around. None of those things were around.

I thought about it. If I gave him the money and gave him directions for how to get to a hospital on the T, would he go? Check into the psych ward through the ER? Not likely.

What if I walked him with me to the McDonald's, bought him something to eat? But I couldn't stay with him -- I had to get back to work, and I'd seen too recently what happens to crazy people in reputable establishments.

Part of me -- a big part of me -- wanted to go back and talk to him. And another part of me -- another big part of me -- wanted to walk away. λ's and my financial situation is tight right now; we have to be watching every dollar we spend, and the money in my pocket wasn't mine alone to give. And the guy was scary. He was crazy. He was sitting on a bench shouting at people and he could lash out if I approached him. As I thought about it, I heard him yell the word "Faggot!" I thought it was "I'm a faggot!", actually, but I couldn't be sure. Another time I thought I might have heard "Cunt!", but again, I couldn't be sure. The only words that were coming out clear were the ones he kept repeating: "I'm dead!"

And somehow I turned around and started walking back. Scared, feeling stupid, but feeling impelled. Something about the words touched me in a way I couldn't even fully explain, and still can't. He was dead. He wanted the world to know he was dead. He was breathing, and he was dead. I needed him to come out of that space in his head. I needed him to know he wasn't dead. I needed him to be better.

So I walked up to him. Very cautiously. I said, "Hey, guy, what's going on?"

His face took on a look of alarm. "Hey, no, I'm not --" he said, garbling the words. He thought I was somebody in authority, come to tell him to move along. So much for my being afraid of him -- he was afraid of me, and, I realized, probably with better reason than I had.

"No, it's okay, it's okay," I said, as reassuringly as I could. "I just wanted to ask what's going on."

He stopped shouting immediately. Tilted his head toward me. His whole expression changed. In one second he'd gone from angry and raving to polite and open, putting social manners on as you might adjust your jacket and straighten your tie.

"I'm Joe Haskins,"* he said to me. His speech was twisted and slurred, but there was no smell of alcohol off him, no bottles around him. Whatever was wrong with his speech was part of what was wrong with him. I didn't, and don't, think he was drunk.

"Hi," I said.

"I need you to know something," he told me.

"What's that?" I asked.

He pondered for a long moment. "I'm Joe Haskins," he said.

"Hi," I said again. Then, "It seems like you're having a bad day."

"You know what, little lady?" he said.

"What's that?"

"I need to tell you something. I really need you to know this."


"You are..." He paused, thinking about it. "You're my brother. My sister," he added. Still caught on "brother," I didn't respond. "And let me tell you something else. I'd kill for you."

Um, okay. "No, it's okay. I'm glad to meet you." I started to say, "I don't want you to kill anybody for me," but stopped myself. He was not going to kill anybody for me; that wasn't the situation, it had nothing to do with what was going on. I didn't feel like letting him know that my first impulse had been "oh, God, please don't act homicidal."

"I'd..." He lost track of his thoughts again. "I'm Joe Haskins. And you... let me tell you, little sister..."

"What's that?"

I couldn't understand his reply.

"Hey," I said, "I'd like you to feel better today. Can --"

He was already shaking his head vehemently. "No, no, no," he said, angry and sad. "No, no."

"No? That's not going to happen, huh?"

"No, no, no."

"I'll pray for you," I said, not that sure why, except that a lot of the homeless people I see seem to find solace in religious paraphernalia.

He shook his head again, as firmly as before. "No."

I went back to my original plan. "Is there someplace you can go?" I asked. "Someplace you can stay?"

He smiled at me, big. "I own this spot."

"Okay." I had no idea how the lives of the homeless worked, especially not in Boston Common, where their presence seems to be tolerated as a simple fact, as just part of the way things are in the city. I was gathering myself up to ask if he'd ever been to a hospital, and, if so, if he wanted to go, when another guy walked up and gave Joe a half-smoked cigarette. "Hey, Joe, how's it going?" he said.

I turned to the guy. "You know him?" I said.

"I'm his brother," the other guy told me.

"Oh, good," I said, immensely relieved. "Look, is he okay? Is he --"

"Well, not like that, but you know. We're brothers out here."

"Oh," I said, getting it. "You two look out for one another?"

He shrugged. "We do what we can, you know?" He reached out to shake my hand. "Sam."

"Hi, Sam." We shook, and he wandered off for a bit.

"Sister," Joe said suddenly, "I love you."

I smiled, but didn't say it back. How was I supposed to say it back? I liked him, cared about him, but I didn't love him. I have a lot of love in my life, a lot of people who love me and whom I love. It's only now that I'm fully realizing that I don't need the love of strangers -- I don't need them to love me, and I don't need to love them, either. It's only now that I'm fully realizing that Joe needs both.

"I'm really glad I met you, and I hope I see you around again," I said to him. I reached into my pocket for the money. He might have seen me do it, I don't know.

"Can I ask you a question?" he said. I said, "Sure," and he repeated it a few times -- "I gotta ask you a question. Can I ask you something? I just gotta ask. Honestly." Whatever it was, it wasn't too easy for him to say. "Sure," I told him, several more times.

"Do you have any money?"

Funny, since I'd been aiming to give him money all along. He hadn't been begging for it, I should add; he didn't have a cup out, wasn't asking for spare change. I pulled the bill out of my pocket, saw that it was a five rather than the ten I'd thought it was. I was relieved. We can afford five bucks more easily than ten. I pressed it into his palm.

"Little sister... I gotta tell you..." He seemed overwhelmed. The conversation went in some loops, more "I love yous," more affirmations of brotherhood. He stretched out two fingers -- I wasn't sure if it was a peace sign or an attempt to reach out to me. I pressed two fingers to his, like I was in E.T. or something.

He leaned in close. "Do you want it back?"

"No, no," I told him. "I want you to have it."

And he bent his head and started crying. Brittle, choking, broken sobs. The ashes from the cigarette Sam had given him scattered down his shirt front. He grabbed my hand and held it compulsively, shaking, sobbing, the brim of his cap covering his face. He glanced up once. "I'm dying," he told me, and I didn't know whether he meant that he was truly terminally ill -- he didn't look it, but how the hell do I know? -- or just that he could not see any way that a life like the one he was living could go on for much longer. "I'm sorry," I told him, watching my heart crack a bit from a long way off.

"I've got to go," I told him eventually, watching his hand over mine, the gnarled knuckles and yellow nails. "I have a job and I have to get back there or they won't be happy. I hope I'll see you again, okay?"

He looked up, his eyes dry. "I'm Joe Haskins," he said. "What's your name?"

I told him my first name.

"Kylie," he said. "Thank you."

I have not made any of this conversation up. It sounds saccharine, scripted, like an anecdote out of Chicken Soup for the Soul. But it's not. Sometimes I exaggerate stories for effect, mostly when I'm telling a funny story, but not now. I've rendered this as exactly as I can remember it because I need to convey that this was a man who was sane once, who once knew how to interact normally, who knew to say "Thank you" and how to introduce himself politely to a stranger and how to refuse offers of money if the giver can't afford them. If you'd been there you could have seen it in his face, like the flip of a switch when I started speaking to him. If he'd had all his teeth and had been able to speak straight, in that moment, you wouldn't have thought him any different from you and me.

He's certainly not that different from me. A tip of the wheel of fate -- born into a different family, not enough money, lousy luck in finding qualified mental health professionals (and I should add, an ability to find qualified mental health professionals who can save a life like mine from a fate like Joe's is not a foregone conclusion for even a middle-class girl) -- and I could have been exactly like Joe. That's what I see whenever I see a mentally ill homeless person on the street. I see myself hunched over a grocery cart, with wild hair and tattered clothes, loaded down with plastic bags and a battered sleeping roll.

Joe was beginning to let go of me when another guy showed up. "Hey, Joe," he said. He looked at me questioningly.

"You two know each other?"

"Know each other? I'm his father," the new guy said, settling down. "Jack Haskins the Fourth. Nice to meet you." I waved. "No, it's true, I really am," he said. I nodded. Meanwhile, another guy came up from the left. "Hey, guys." He reached out to shake my hand. "Paul Dowd. I'm his cousin."

"Okay. You guys will all look out for each other, right?" I addressed Paul, who seemed as sane and pulled-together as anyone else you'd happen to meet. "He'll be all right? Joe?"

Paul nodded. "Oh sure. Sometimes he just gets liquored up and he gets to feeling sorry for himself. He'll be fine."

"Thanks," I said. I addressed myself to Joe. "Bye now. Maybe I'll see you around again."

I don't remember what his reply was. I was already walking back to my job.

Walking back I thought about a lot of things. I knew, after the conversation, that if I'd tried to save Joe by bringing him to a hospital or a shelter or a soup kitchen or anywhere else, it wouldn't have mattered. He had his bench, his bench that he owned as far as he or anyone else was concerned. He had his family. I took a great deal of comfort from the family he had around him, his brother and his father and his cousin. As I'd left there had been a woman in a wheelchair coming over to join the group, a woman with an oxygen tube running through her nose. She had a family too. I had never known that. I had always thought homeless people lived entirely alone, cut off from the rest of the world. Now I know that at least in Boston Common, they have their own world. My assumption that the world of non-indigent, bustling, "normal" nine-to-fivers was the only world had turned out to be incorrect. Homeless people may be exiled from "polite" society, but some of them, at least, build their own societies to support their own lives.

And I thought about how I had always been scared of giving too much of myself to homeless people -- giving money whenever I saw them, even talking to them and putting that emotional investment into it -- because I thought they would take and take and take until I didn't know how to stop myself from bleeding dry. I thought of how little Joe had needed. His manner had changed the moment I'd spoken a kind word to him. It was very clear that no one had spoken kindly to him for a very long time. And maybe his short-term memory is shot and that's why he can't remember the last time someone was kind, but I don't think so. I think people are scared and uncomfortable and they don't think they can help and so they walk on by. And he kept shouting, kept shouting, "I'm dead".

And I don't know how long he'll remember me or whether he'll remember me at all, but I don't care. And I know he'll almost certainly use that five bucks I gave him for alcohol and I don't care about that either. The five bucks was not about getting him to a better place. Unless a miracle happens, he will never be in a better place than he is in now. He's settled, with a bench he calls his own and an adopted family around him, and change is too hard and too scary to even attempt when you have any kind of security at all. Five bucks was never going to change anything material, but when I gave it to him what it meant was that I cared, and my God but did he need that.

I am not telling this story to be boastful. I walk past dozens of homeless people a day and do nothing. I will come out and say something I didn't think I was going to confess publicly, that if he had been a black guy instead of a white guy I would not have felt comfortable approaching him, and I would have done nothing. I am not laying claim to sainthood. The only reason I did what I did was because I empathized with him because I am myself mentally ill.

But I needed to write the story for LJ, because I needed to tell people that there is a person in there and that person is as familiar as you or I. Not just "as human as you or I" -- I mean, duh. But as familiar. At some point when he was younger he had no idea he was going to end up where he is now, and neither did anyone around him. If things had been a little different he would have a life like yours or mine. And all of that was right under the surface. I mean, right under the surface.

There are plenty of mentally ill people who are violent and scary, and approaching them wouldn't have this effect -- I doubt most of them would lash out at someone who approached them kindly, or they'd be in jail already (prisons are full of untreated mentally ill people, and the court systems are not terribly lenient when it comes to homeless indigents who attack everyday upstanding citizens), but some would no doubt continue to yell aggressively. I'm not sure how it was that I evaluated Joe as someone who wouldn't do that. It wasn't just a guess and it was more than a hunch, but I couldn't explain it, so I can't pass on any advice, either. Other people will have to judge for themselves whether it feels safe to show kindness to people like Joe when they encounter them.

But I needed to have it known. Joe really, really, really needed someone to be kind to him, and it was so easy to show him that. Really. All the time I spent agonizing and pondering, I figured it would be this big damn deal to try and talk to this guy without getting hit or robbed or pleaded with endlessly, and the only thing he wanted was for someone to act like he was not a piece of shit they needed to scrape off their shoe.

I just needed to say it. I hope somebody who reads this will be in a situation at some point where they feel comfortable reaching out to someone who needs it.

I don't think I'll pray for Joe, because he told me not to. I'll keep thinking of him though. Maybe in some way it's the same thing.

*Not his real name.


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Posted by: s t a r l e t (lovefromgirl)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)

Kylie, may I link this from my journal? These words, your words, need hearing.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)

I'd like that. Thanks.

Posted by: s t a r l e t (lovefromgirl)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Jessica Allan Schmidt (jpallan)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)

I think you did the right thing in not forcing him to leave his spot, because that is where he is and everyone's got territorial issues.

I will pray for him. Not to offend him and not in such a way as he'd notice. But I believe that all of God's children are equally in His sight, but some of them try to challenge His peripheral vision.

(I also don't believe in any particular ideal image of God, but as the Western canon traditionally assigns the male pronoun, I have no reason to fight that, as opposed to my youth when I worshipped a very specifically female Goddess.)

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)

Yeah -- I'm not sure how much difference there is between my form of "praying" versus "thinking of someone and wishing them well," anyway. Not that I don't believe in God, but I think prayers and heartfelt well-wishes sort of go into the same web.

I wouldn't have forced him to leave, of course, but I think I thought on some level he'd want to -- I mean, that he'd want the help of a hospital or shelter or whatever. Of course I turned out to be wrong.

Posted by: Yes, I Have One (supremegoddess1)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)

Thank you for this.

Two questions:

1) May I link to this?

2) Would you mind if I posted it to readers_list?

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)

Sure -- thank you.

ETA: Having taken a look at the community (with which I was not previously familiar), really really thank you!

Edited at 2009-04-25 01:46 am (UTC)

Posted by: Yes, I Have One (supremegoddess1)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)

Posted by: Yes, I Have One (supremegoddess1)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)

Posted by: Xtina (the_xtina)
Posted at: June 25th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Yes, I Have One (supremegoddess1)
Posted at: June 25th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)

Posted by: kokopellinelli (kokopellinelli)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)

This really touched me. I grew up in a very small town so all of my experience with homeless people is very recent and very small...I recently moved to a town about an hour outside of Portland so every once in a while when I go into "the city" I'll see someone with a cup out outside of a store or something. I've never given any of them money, since I figure they'll just use it for alcohol (and I don't usually carry cash anyway). I hope the inclination to look away doesn't make me a bad person. I think, after reading about your experience with Joe, I'll at least start making eye contact with people and maybe doling out change, if I have it.

I don't think I would have been brave enough to approach Joe, but I'm glad you did. Your post has inspired me to maybe be a little braver. There was a man who hung out on my college campus back in the day...he talked to trees. I saw him every day but I never spoke to him. I wish now that I had. Just at least to learn his name so I could greet him.

Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)

Years ago I went on one date with a girl I met through an online personals ad or something. We had a perfectly nice dinner and were getting along well and so on. On the way home we met a homeless guy begging for change. Either I didn't have any on me, or it was in my wallet and I didn't want to take my wallet out because I was afraid he'd grab it and run -- I forget which. Either way I put my head down and kept walking, because it was after dark and that's just what I did. Meanwhile, my date looked him straight in the eye and said "Sorry, I don't have any."

After we'd gone by she began talking angrily about "people" -- in the generic, but her meaning soon came clear -- who treated homeless people like they didn't exist. At first I was agreeing with her, for all the world as though I hadn't doe just that; grokking slowly to the fact that she was actually yelling at me, despite the generic terms, I protested that I didn't have any money. I forget what she replied, but obviously it was a stupid excuse, given that she'd already demonstrated what she thought was appropriate by, you know, doing it.

At the time I stayed defensive for awhile, trotting out the standard "late/dark/didn't have any money/wouldn't change anything" excuses. But I think about that very, very often, and it's changed the way I've behaved in situations like that ever since. When people ask me for change now I try at least to look them full in the face and say apologetically, "I'm sorry, I don't have any." But I don't know that I ever would have started doing that if my date hadn't called me out on it. I'm glad she did.

Posted by: kokopellinelli (kokopellinelli)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)

Posted by: Silmaril (silmaril)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)

I was 12, 13 maybe, and one day I was walking to the bus from school and there was this guy, a grown man, in the most crowded street of Ankara, standing at a corner crying.

I wanted to go and talk to him. I was very upset that none of the adults around did. I was very scared because I had had the "don't talk to strangers" thing drilled in too deep. So in the end I did not go talk to him. I went to the bus stop.

To this day, I regret it.

Thank you for sharing this.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)

People really, really do drill it in deep. It took a lot of thinking for me to decide to do this today, and I had a particularly strong reason for reaching out -- my bipolar has been acting up a bit lately, and by "a bit" I mean "I would be completely crazy if I didn't have a good medication regime that can be adjusted as my moods fluctuate."

Spring is a hard time for bipolars, ironically.

Posted by: Gemma (teacupdiaries)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)

Thanks for sharing this, Kylie.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)

Thanks for reading it. :) (Not a joke. It's a hundred years long!)

Posted by: Gemma (teacupdiaries)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Claudia (lunakitten)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit incoherent, but I needed to comment.

Thank you for writing this, for sharing it.

Part of the work I do is with people looking for shelters- we get a bed count daily and people call us to find out if there's a space- so I deal with every level of need- especially those looking for domestic violence shelters and overnight shelters. I tell you this because I would like to share this entry with my co-workers, since sometimes we get frustrated, and we share the things that get us past that.

I added it to my memories because I'd like to be able to go back to it, nights I get frustrated and short with the callers- something I work very hard to avoid, and I surround myself with reminders of why we do the work we do (and some nights even that isn't enough).

So thank you Kylie- for being thoughtful, and eloquent, and you.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm a bit incoherent, but I needed to comment.

::hugs:: Thanks for this comment. It helps me to perceive the little things I can do as part of a continuum of reaching-out that people do to help. You're welcome to share this with your coworker.

Posted by: Ginger Honey (sweetgingertea)
Posted at: April 24th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Asleep on the lawn

Thank you so much for sharing this. I've been scared of homeless people, but more than I'm scared of them, I'm scared of BEING one of them. Sometimes the greatest gift is simply a little kindness.

Posted by: blahblahblah, whatever (kathrynrose)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)

I love this.

Posted by: Ponykins (rolypolypony)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)

Wow. Thanks for writing all of that to share with us.

Posted by: Erin (givesmevoice)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
Sondheimtext Someone in a Tree

But I needed to write the story for LJ, because I needed to tell people that there is a person in there and that person is as familiar as you or I. Not just "as human as you or I" -- I mean, duh. But as familiar. At some point when he was younger he had no idea he was going to end up where he is now, and neither did anyone around him. If things had been a little different he would have a life like yours or mine. And all of that was right under the surface. I mean, right under the surface.


Posted by: Xtina (the_xtina)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)

I think people are scared and uncomfortable and they don't think they can help and so they walk on by. And he kept shouting, kept shouting, "I'm dead".

This very precisely reminds me of a dream I had once.

Posted by: Emily (mysticpenguin)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)

Oh, that made me all teary. You're a good person to treat him with such dignity.

I got my undergrad degree at a school in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio, in a little town that's probably only still there because of the college. It's The Big City for this incredibly rural, poor region. One of my friends in college volunteered with a homeless shelter outside of the city--I can't remember its name and I wish I could because its point was to give homeless people clothes and a dignified place to live until they could get back on their feet and it was a really neat organization--where they would have weekly barbecues in the spring and summer. She invited me to one once but warned me that it was open to anyone who needed a free dinner and so there would be homeless people there and I might not be comfortable. At the time I thought it was weird she'd say that, because I didn't have a problem with homeless people and I was all self-congratulating since I got along better with the townies than the college kids, which apparently made me better than anyone else who had gone to the university in its two century history. And we went to the barbecue and everyone was really nice. I saw someone I met there standing in the parking lot of the town's shopping center with a sign the next year. I think I sort of embarrassed him because I offered him the entire twenty I'd just taken out of the ATM when he told me that he had been laid off when the Pepsi bottling plant closed and had already lined up another job but he just needed a little to get through the next few weeks. In retrospect, I can see how I would be kind of insulted if I'd been in his shoes there.

But then I was completely shocked when I was home one summer and saw a homeless man with a sign sitting on the island in the middle of the freeway exit a few miles from my house, because WTF, there were no homeless people in our affluent little bedroom community! They were all ten miles off down in Dayton, how'd he get up there? Because you know, homeless people never scrape up the money to ride the bus or know people with cars or anything like that. Seeing homeless people used to really upset me when I was young because there were so many of them and I couldn't help everyone, so I learned to just sort of not see them. I think what moved me here--or one of the things that moved me--is how clearly you laid out that really, all they need anyone to give them is a little acknowledgment that there's a person in there under the surface with the same human dignity as anyone else.

Posted by: Chris Walsh (chris_walsh)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
Whale fluke

I've read this. (I'm here via supremegoddess1.)

I've had my own encounters with people who are homeless, some encounters more involved than others. I do try to acknowledge and make eye contact, and not blow them off. There's the risk I'll get hounded -- that's happened -- but I've noticed that often the type of person who'll hound people won't care if someone paid attention to them or not. And I'd rather acknowledge my fellow human beings; I figure that's part of the price of admission, if that makes any sense.

You did what you could to make sense of a complicated situation, and you did it with both your safety and Joe's possible needs in mind. There's bravery there, even if it's a difficult and not a happy bravery. And that bravery eased a part of a day for at least Joe.

Do what you can; it's all you can do. Simple, but sometimes complicated to pull off. But there and then, you did what you could.

Posted by: Kare Bear (luvs_chicago)
Posted at: April 25th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)

Thanks for sharing this. I've encountered a lot of homeless people in my time, but I've rarely gone out of my way to talk to them. You're reminding me that I should. Thanks.

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