One of the things that stands out to me the most in the walking part of my commute to and from work are the countless numbers of homeless people standing, sitting or laying down near my path. Many carry signs, while others shake empty paper/styrofoam cups with change jingling at the bottom.
I often carry singles and change on me just to hand out if I’m not carrying leftover food from an event. It’s a small offering, but that small donation can make a big impact on someone’s day. At least, that is how and what I like to believe.
One sign stands out to me the most on my walk down Washington St. towards Wells, there was a very tall bearded man cloaked in a coat with a comforter wrapped around him. I remember thinking, “Dude, it is cold as shit out here.” Yet, there he stood on the corner bracing against the harsh wind and the icy fingers of cold that caressed us all looking for openings in the many layers we wear.
I always think about the what ‘ifs’ in life when it comes to the homeless. What if I had the money to buy large buildings or create transition homeless shelters that brought people back into a life of their own. I imagined in my head (as I always do) that I had a massive complex where I could usher all of these people into and say, “Welcome home!”
How quickly these ideas pop in my head is just how quickly they leave. The man with the comforter caught my immediate attention.
This guy held his sign and it caught me off guard. I usually see signs that say “Loss my job”, “US Vet”, “Disabled with Kids” and I can go on forever.
The sign held between this man’s hands said, “Hungry as Fuck!” Each time I think about it, I wonder is he joking or is this some sort of social experiment. I laugh any time I think about it or see that sign. I am also on the hunt for it whenever I have food or money because I promised myself I would give this many something for the sign I see.
I finally found the guy with the sign.
February 23, 2017
I saw the sign today and this time he had a buddy next to him. They stood outside Dunkin Donuts and there was the sign. I was on my way to work and was debating whether I wanted to pay for coffee or drink the coffee in the office. I made eye contact with the tall man and that made the decision for me. I walked in with the thought to get him a donut as well as one for his friend.
As I made my way out with one bag in my hand, I walked straight to him and his whole demeanor immediately changed. There was a smile on his face and in his eyes.
The closer I got, the more I could observe in his face, his hands, his stature. I thought instantly, this is some poor woman’s son. This is her baby because beyond the grime and the beard and the shade of homelessness stood a very handsome young man with hazel eyes and sandy blond hair filled with grime.
He smiled and his eyes glittered with warmth, his fingers were caked in dirt as if he had dug through dirt and charcoal, but it wouldn’t come out of his fingers the same way car grease stays on your hands unless you scrub them with special soap.
“Thank you!” he smiled.
“There’s two donuts in there, one for you and one for you friend.” I smiled back and nodded at his friend.
As I walked into the office, I felt really good about my day. Whatever catastrophe or problem, could not take this away from me. This feeling of hope and motivation that I was at a point in my life where I could make impacts.
I look forward to each day wondering, “How many more impacts can I make today?”