Sunday afternoon I saw a homeless man in front of my local movie theater. His right arm was mangled, or misshaped, or something. I couldn't see it clearly because he worked so hard to tuck it off to the side. I think he was afraid it was offensive to the passers-by he was soliciting.
I had, ironically, just left a bag of canned goods in the local food pantry's drop box and was regretting the little can of mandarin oranges. It had a pop-top, it's content doesn't require heating, and I could have just given it to this gentleman. There was such a sad dignity to him. After I ran my errands I slipped a dollar and some change into my jeans pocket and went looking for him, but he was gone.
Then this morning, on a very busy corner downtown, I saw a husky man in a pink tutu, holding a sign that said, "This is the most humiliating thing I have ever done. But I'm hungry as fuck." I know why he was trying to stand out. It's a competitive corner. On the other side of the street was a man in a wheelchair, holding a sign that says he's a starving disabled veteran.
I went out at lunchtime to buy flowers and saw him again. Here I am, with money to buy flowers, and he's reduced to wearing a pink tutu on a cloudy day. I dropped some silver into his Big Gulp cup.
They're everywhere, the unemployed and homeless. Just as I often don't hear traffic noise, I often don't notice them.
And then there are those who burrow into my imagination and take up housekeeping. I'm grateful to them. They remind me I'm human.