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IGNORING THE HOMELESS IS SO MUCH A PART OF CITY LIFE TODAY, IT'S MORE AUTOMATIC FOR ME NOW THAN BREATHING!
on February 4, 2014
We have all seen them, the dirty, nasty, stinking, disgusting bums standing on corners with cardboard signs with large black block letters stating something like, "HOMELESS PLEASE HELP!" People whose hair is matted and tangled. I live in the county and now the bums often sit on the benches near the mall in the county panhandling and being patently obnoxious. These homeless people of which I speak are almost always men who look drunk and or high on something. Yes I often tell myself not to give them anything because; it will just be used for drugs or alcohol.
Funny thing there is a coffee shop near my home and in it homeless people sit for hours on end with a book in fromt of them. They seldom read the book because; I notice many of the homeless regulars dudes never turn the pages. I visit the coffee shop to use the free wi-fi and people watch, while drinking coffee, eating muffins and reading my kindle. I am not a big guy but I am ugly & crazy enough that the sick and sane alike know to leave me alone. Yet rarely a homeless person will approach me.
This stinking nasty homeless dude walked up to my table. I actually smelled this dude approach my table so without looking up and seeing him, I said leave me alone. In my most robotic voice I said, Sir You'll get nothing from me but greif, pain and an eventual police arrest. I don't exist to satisfy your drug and alcohol habits so please GO AWAY! Usually that's enough to make the homeless leave me alone so I read my Kindle, unbothered and happy.
I had not even looked at the man but the horrid odor he emitted was still there. This being Baltimore I figured we would have to fight so I stood up ready to duke it out. It was a disabled white dude and he was just standing there crying not boo hoo loud sobs just lots of tears streaming down his dirty face crying. I have cerebral palsy you see so when I walk its painfully obvious that I have trouble walking. It is because; I have cerebral palsy that I am far more harsh to street beggars and bums as they think I am weak and might want to try me. This guy had watched me go get my food and coffee saw that I was disabled and felt he could talk to me thinking I'd have empathy for his plight.
The guy through tears said he just wanted to ask me some questions like where could he go to eat or wash his clothes. He had just been kicked out of his home on the streets for a few days ago and he had his disability money stolen. He was physically and mentally disabled, alone, afraid and stank to the high heavens. Of all the people in the coffee shop he came to me asking for help, guidance and understanding. Wierd thing is I love werewolves and this guy knew a LOT about werewolves, sci fi and all the things I absolutely love. I started talking to the guy and found out he was very intelligent just not very street wise at all. The family member that took care of him and gave him a place to live had died and his family took his money, sold the house he called home and the new owners kicked him out.
It was bitter cold out like in the single digits and this guy was obviously in bad shape. Needless to say I ended up helping the guy out but, I am guilty of making homeless people automatically invisible in my life and it is so easy to do. The weird thing is in helping this homeless guy I found a friend who likes werewolves, sci fi, Playstation 3 games and lots of other things I enjoy. He never asks me for anything even though he is homeless. I think he realizes I have been taken advantage of too so he lets me offer help but he never asks for anything. I was reading, Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness when he first walked up to me.
I never forgot his question when he saw I was reading, Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness. He said why read Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness when you have a homeless man right here who wants to share his real life story with you right now. He suggested I read Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness later but take the opportunity to learn from him in real life now. The moral of Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness is that homeless people are closer than you think and helping them is far easier than you can ever imagine. Clean clothes, a shower and just conversation made a world of difference to this guy it was to put it in autistic werewolf terms an utterly transforming experience.
Thinking about it being invisible is far worse than being hated. To hate someone you must first acknowledge the negatives you find offensive exist within an individual. That acknowledgement of an evil individual's personal identity is in itself an affirming act. Homeless people aren't usually hated they are truly invisible. People train their brains to process homeless people as part of the urban \ suburban or economic landscape. In the 21st Century USA most of us have trained ourselves to process Homeless People using the same filters used to ignore pigeons, blowing trash on the streets, parking meters, street lamps and other routine objects in our environment. Homeless people cease to be individiuals once we train our brains to regard them as just another part of the "BACKGROUND!" The essential part of humanity is defined by our ability to always make the plight of human beings in need visible to us and our humane sensibilities. The "Homeless" are made invisible because; we as a society have gotten cold hearted enough to filter them out of our conscious minds. We are more apt to remember the make and model of cars we see in the street than we are the faces of suffering homeless people who beg for change on our streets. I do not omit myself from the ranks who have made the homeless invisible. I condemn my own efforts to look past the himeless beggers right along with so many others, I get no special pass because; I'm autistic or disabled. There should be more books like this because; myself and so many like me need to be reawakened to the needs of the 21st Century Homeless.