May 29, 2009

Sleeping in His Shoes

I was perusing some older photos in an effort to free up some hard drive space when I came across a picture I took of a homeless man in Bay City, MI. It is odd that I often struggle to remember where I parked my car, but the minute or so I considered this person from a distance is quite clear in my head.

I remember that he had his possessions in a series of plastic shopping bags, and that he did not stir during the time I encountered him. I also remember how shiny his pants were, with that three-week layer of grease and grime reflecting the early morning sunshine.

For a few moments I thought about how he might have wound up living on a stretch of lawn in a public park along the Saginaw River. Perhaps he wound up in the drug life, or maybe he was in between prison stints, or we might consider that he is one of the deinstitutionalized mental patients for whom a life on the street is less expensive to the state than full-time care in a state hospital.

Or perhaps the man is one of those people who simply do not fit in mainstream society and who chooses a life of transient solitude over working a crummy job and paying for an overpriced apartment that doubles as a cockroach haven.

Who knows?

I must admit that I felt no urge to offer the man a few bucks, and this was not only because his face was hidden. Sometimes it is better to leave alone those people who show no inclination toward social exchange.

Besides, I was late for the complimentary breakfast at the hotel in which I was staying. Priorities first - some other schlep might have edged me out for the last raspberry pastry, and the waffle-making dude only works for an hour or two at breakfast.


Jim Styro said...

The mind is a curious thing - it will latch and hold on to what it will. I try to do good to those less fortunate than myself on a consistent enough basis that I don't have to torture myself constantly with the thought of how much better off I am than most of humanity. I am grateful that my mind can still filter thoughts and experiences - otherwise I feel certain that I would be paralyzed by the enormity of life.

I guess I'm just trying to keep my little corner of the universe clean (that's oftentimes more than I seem to be able to handle) - and offer up at least a prayer and a few dollars to help the other guy.

I don't know that this comment has much to do with your post really; it's just what came out. Take care, Mikey.

historymike said...

Good philosophy, Jim Styro. I a city like Detroit or DC, a person could go broke just trying to help out the homeless.

microdot said...

Suddenly, everytime I go to a supermarket, even tose out here in the big towns in the country, I find someone outside the door begging.

Only in the last 3 years have I seen this become evident. To beg in the towns and villages in France is evidence that there are people who are alienated enough to resist the social safety net here.
There is a homeless community in the woods outside Versailles. There is a lot of outreach, but the phenomena of high rents, joblessness, the cost of food and dependance on alcohol and drugs and the impossibility to get an apartment in a big city creates conditions that grow exponentially....