March 11, 2008

Will Work for Food

Yesterday I finally accomplished a goal that I set a while back. I received a birthday card in January with five dollars in it, compliments of someone who, at her last opportunity, greatly offended me. She obviously doesn't realize I don't want anything from her--the simplest thing being contact of any kind. But instead of throwing the card away (which I would normally do), I decided to give the money to someone who needs it. I also decided to give away
all the money I have received (or will receive) from the many people who never liked me but instead thought they were obligated to give it to me. Giving the money away turns their insincere gestures into something of meaning for me. So yesterday I finally saw the local homeless man who holds a sign that reads: "Homeless--Will work for food" and I handed him a $5 bill.

"Thank you. God bless you!" he said as I handed it to him.

"You too!" I said, smiling.

I wondered how he could still believe in God in his position. Maybe it comforts him. The mere fact that he would wish a simple blessing on me although he is the one who needs divine help was very touching. He's forced to stand on the side of the road with a crude, handmade sign asking for help. Nearby are houses selling for nearly $400,000. Nearby are eateries and stores selling things no one really needs. People go in and eat, shop, and enjoy without giving that homeless man a second thought. Nearby is my humble abode and as I arrived home, I looked at its bricks and roof and felt grateful that I had a home. It's filled with a lot of things I probably don't need, but I also have a home filled with people I love and who love me. That's the fortunate part.

I think the saddest thing about the homeless man is that no one seems to love him. No one is waiting for him somewhere--anywhere--and he has nowhere to look forward to going for comfort, support, and love. He is just surviving. How does someone get to that point where they have no one left in their life who care enough to help?

Sometimes I think that his life may be richer in one way: he is not on the vicious cycle of spending and consuming. He has many worse worries than I do, don't get me wrong, but he may appreciate life much more than any of us with possessions ever could. It's so easy to forget that he once had a mother. He had a home. He had a name. Now he's the homeless. We've assigned him a title, we've gotten used to it, and we don't think about it anymore. Like so many things in this country, we've taken away the negative association by pure association. I'm sure the money spent on the war could assist not only the helpless ones in the country but throughout the world.

I know $5 is not life-changing. I would have given him more, but I didn't have anything else on me. I plan on giving much more. I like to think the $5 might have helped him. Maybe it just gave him a few minutes of hope. I don't give a damn what he did with the money, as long as he felt like a person again for a little while.


Paige Jennifer said...

On the 1800 block of Sansom Street in Philadelphia, you can usually find a homeless woman curled against a dumpster. She has never once asked me for anything. But whenever I'm nearby having dinner, I get my leftovers to go and then detour to Sansom to offer them to her. She's never said no so I'll keep doing it.

Kel said...

That's really nice of you to think of the homeless woman! I wish more people were like you.