I was at the library until 2am and hesitated at the entrance because I was fearful of the cold I would have to endure for the ~200 steps it would take me to get to my car. I got back to the apartment, got out of my car, closed the door and noticed a man fidgeting in a truck next to me. He was wearing a thin white tshirt and was trying to bundle up in two blankets. He was obviously sleeping…..
My mind was blown. I understand perfectly well that this is not something rare in many many countries, cities, and towns all over the world. This is also not my first time being faced with the seriousness of homelessness in my surrounding areas.
I don’t know this guy. I don’t know if he’s homeless…if hes hiding from something…maybe he got into a fight with his roommates/significant other/parents and got kicked out….maybe he walked out before he was to do something stupid…maybe he’s trying something out? I DON’T KNOW but I do know that it’s TOO cold tonight to willfully choose to sleep in your car. It is currently 33 degrees outside and is to get a little colder through the night before it warms up.
My first instinct? Give him another blanket- but I don’t have an extra one….make him hot chocolate? Its too late and he is trying to get all, if any, rest. I know I should sleep and be thankful and get the rest I need to be up early tomorrow but I cant. There's an actual human being 20 steps outside of the front door, sleeping in his car.
During my times as a Scribe at a hospital in Williamsburg, I have had many experiences with the homeless. There was a couple who admitted to living in the woods in December because they had nowhere to go. All I could do? Buy them a bus ticket “home”. Another time, a group of kids admitted to living on the streets for about a week…All I could do? Buy them each a foot long sandwich at Subway. Another time, a man comes in because his sister kicked him out and his only family is in Florida. What could I do? Nothing. (partly because he had a psychological disorder).
Each time I researched thoroughly the extent of homelessness in Williamsburg, VA. There are absolutely no shelters or anything...not even within a 30 mile radius. The only thing we have is a women’s shelter. I understand that the government doesn’t want to “welcome” the homeless by providing them with somewhere to crash but its inevitable and I strongly believe that these people should be treated like people.
I've always felt it my duty as a more priveleged human being to do what I can when faced with the homeless. Give my take out food (or food I just bought) if I have any. Spare some change, maybe even a few dollars. Even just make eye contact and smile because these are PEOPLE not animals or demons or beasts.
I’m done with my homeless rant.
You can’t judge other people’s situations. You never know why or how they got there. A previously hardworking, happily married lawyer could be the homeless guy asking for a dollar fifty to get on the bus. I understand that some people get in a rut and then don’t do anything to get out of it. Pity for these people...really... But I fiercely believe it’s wrong that everyone be subjected to this judgment automatically.
As for me? I'm thankful- more than I could ever articulate. I’ll set my alarm for early and hopefully catch the guy as he is waking up and get him some coffee or something. It’s the least I can do.
As for the rest of you? Check out these sites….and the statistics.
Don’t be quick to write people off…
Sincerely I sign off…