Been a while since I posted one of these. I got snowed out one weekend, and had a weekend-long commitment on another, but now I’m back, and it was really good to get back out there and hang out with the less fortunate.
It was another super busy one. The very first intersection I drove to had three panhandlers. I haven’t seen an almost ‘fully loaded’ intersection like that in a while. I guess times are rough now.
Having three people at one intersection made it a little interesting, and I had to rethink my approach. Normally it’s just walk up to the only person there and ask ‘hey, I don’t have any cash on me, but I was going to get some food if you want to come’, and then we get food. With three people I think it would’ve been fairly rude to just take one person, so I decided I would start with one person, and just work my way around, seeing if anybody wanted to come. If they accepted I would then circle back once I reached the last person, and take all three(or whoever wanted to come), to get something to eat.
Oddly enough, nobody accepted, all three people said they really couldn’t leave their spot, but I ended up getting to feed people by just making a run through a nearby burger king.
I still got to talk to people, but this is making me rethink my strategy. The goal is not just to feed people, but to give them a little time where you can talk to them as another human being on an equal level. However, it does limit me to talking to just one person at a time, and it’s not the most efficient thing in the world. I’m thinking of changing from taking one person(or even a group of people) to lunch, to just going around an intersection, finding what people want, and just making a food run.
This strategy of making a ‘food run’, did still allow for some time to talk with people. I had a chat with one guy for probably 10-15 minutes about jobs. I am extremely blessed to be working in a field that I love, have good job security, and pretty good pay with upward mobility. This guy, until recently, had been in a similar situation(minus the job security). He was something of a local celebrity, and went to school to work in his field, and loved working in his field every day.
The other two people also had what I would consider fairly ordinary jobs that would provide a steady income. Then stuff happened, and now they’re on street corners relying on the kindness of strangers. The scariest part was one of the three said he was there because of a medical situation(got hit by a drunk driver), and the last time I was out both of the panhandlers I talked to said they were on the street in part because of a medical situation. I’ve got pretty rock solid coverage, but it still is somewhat worrisome to think how easy it is to suddenly find yourself in that situation.
I’m now looking through youtube to find a video of this local celebrity, and it’s a fairly surreal experience. Feels kind of like the beginning of a book or something. I won’t post anything if I find it, but I’ve already got one video that might be him. It’s hard to tell because being out in the element changes you a bit, but I think it might be. Famous to homeless(or at least jobless), in no time flat.
Last thought, really thinking about changing from a one on one ‘let’s go eat’ to ‘I’m making a food run, what do you want?’ It would let me do 4-5 people instead of 1-2, and would still let me have an opportunity to share their story.
As usual, I’d love to hear any experiences you guys have had with the less fortunate. I’ll see you guys later!