Had lunch with another homeless friend yesterday, here’s how it went down.
It was a fascinating and highly rewarding experience. As soon as I step out of my door until I get back home I think about what it must be like to be homeless and it’s like stepping into a different world. For that 90 minutes or so all the other problems of life seem kind of laughably insignificant. It wears off after a day or so, but it’s a very peaceful feeling.
Anyway, step out of my house, start doing my circuit of all the intersections I’ve seen homeless people at before. About ten minutes in I see the same gentlemen from last week(Carchoo, Romanian friend). I was faced with a rather interesting decision at this point. Do I take him out again? Or do I try and find someone else? He still needs help the same as anyone else, but I figured part of the point of this is to give them a positive experience with someone from the middle class. I decide that it would be best to give somebody else that positive experience, and resolve to circle back to him later with some food I had in my car.
I drive on, and about five minutes later run into two gentlemen on different medians but at the same intersection. I park, run into a nearby store to pick up some snickers bars, and head out to greet the two gentlemen.
The first guy(let’s call him Ryan because we actually never introduced myself), I walked up to and called out ‘hey friend, I don’t have any cash on me, but I know there’s some restaurants in that shopping center. Do you want to grab some food.’ He quickly agreed, and I said we should go talk to the second gentlemen(I think he said his name was John). We walk on over and this second gentlemen was very polite and friendly, but declined. I gave him the bars I bought and he thanked me profusely before we parted ways.
Me and Ryan head over to a Pappa Johns and order a couple larges. I did a magic trick, and about this point he lightened up. Until now he hadn’t been tense, but he was definitely awkward about it. He was kind of confused and asked me if I was just walking by. I don’t think this happens very often to people in his life circumstances, but once the trick started he eased up a lot. Once again he was one of the friendliest people I had talked to all week. All smiles and laughs, very attentive to the conversation, he was about my age and I guess it felt good just to talk to someone his own age like they were a friend again.
After the trick I asked him about how he got here, and he said he had a drug problem. He went to rehab, and some bad stuff happened. His parents said they’d let him back in if he got his act together, and here he was. It all happened fairly quick from what he told me. He had only been on the streets a few weeks. The guy couldn’t have been older than 25 and might have been as young as high school. I thought about how much money I had in my back account and how the line between me and him is really not all that wide. I’ve got tons of family in the area, but even so. It really would not be hard at all for our positions to flip.
Our meal ended on an odd note. He excused himself to go to the bathroom and didn’t return for a half hour. I had to leave, so I left him a note and the rest of the pizza, and headed out. After my prior engagement ended I circled back and the pizza and his stuff were gone(I asked someone to watch them for a little while, and I was only gone for an hour so I think he got his things back). Not the best way to end things, I would’ve rather ended with a proper goodbye, but that’s life i guess. It was still one of the most positive and friendly interactions I had all week. Even when I circled back to Carchoo later in the day and handed him the food he was all smiles and asked after my family. Still hesitant to accept anything.
So about that title, while I was driving away and reflecting on things it occurred to me that a lot of times in life we aren’t in the spots we think we should be. We aren’t doing as well in school. We aren’t getting into the relationships we want. We aren’t getting promoted at work or making the kinds of friends we want. There are achievements and milestones in life that we feel we should be hitting, but aren’t. And to me, being someone who does this for homeless people is always something I felt like I should do. I think most people feel like they should do more, and when you actually get out there and do it there’s this peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re being who you should be. It eases the tension in life, unwinds the springs, and just gives you a sense of belonging. That sense of belonging extends to other people. You get this team spirit for humanity complex. This notion that you’re all humans, and you’re all on the same side.
I still think I’m kind of a crappy person because part of my motivation is still being able to post about it later, but you can read more about that in a previous post. And the point of posting these is to try and demonstrate that this isn’t a very difficult thing to do that can be highly rewarding for all parties involved. It costs about forty dollars if you go for all the bells and whistles, and only takes about ninety minutes.
If you guys have had any interaction with the homeless I would love to hear about it in the comment.