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04 August 2016

So while walking around the neighborhood near my hotel, [More:] I noticed a man in a wheelchair, sleeping with a blanket over his head. The next night, I noticed him again in the same spot. Since I had to stop and pick something up anyway, I also bought a Gatorade and a pack of donuts. On my way by, I placed the food by his feet. He awoke with a start. I explained that I wanted to give him some food. "I have enough. I have. I have!" he protested. I ask if he could give it to someone who needed it. "There is no one else. Just me. I have enough."

I walked away confused. I thought I was helping someone who needed help and I was turned down flat. I decided to find someone else to give it to. I walked more than a mile, encountering only happy, apparently well-off people. I went one last place- under a highway bridge, wondering if anyone sheltered there. No one.

So I walked along the highway the few blocks back to the hotel. I guess that means I'll just eat the donuts myself. When I got to the hotel I found no entrances faced the highway; I'd have to walk to the end of the block.

When I got there I found the highway was elevated above street level, so I had to walk one more block to cut over to the block where the hotel was.

Growing impatient, I cut across the corner of the next block, close to the building. And there was woman on the gravel walkway next to the building, curled up asleep.

I quietly approached her to set the bag down. She heard my closest step and sat up suddenly. "It's okay. I have some food for you if you want it." I set the bag down and walked on. She picked it up and said, "Okay."

"It's not much. Maybe it will help," I suggested.

I heard her say, "Thank you." I walked the last block back to the hotel.
That reminds me of seeing a homeless person in my neighbourhood. I was worried about her. So I contacted the city council. Turns out that the designated phone nr on their website was incorrect. It took a while to get in touch with the right social services person. Turns out they know her. And that she knows the facilities that are available. Etc.

I once offered her money but she seemed embarassed by that.

I haven't seen her locally anymore.

I'm not sure what my point is with this anecdote.
posted by jouke 07 August | 05:53
Yeah, there are so many here in New York, you get a bit numb to it. One very old woman sitting on the landing of some subway stairs, pleading, Please help me, please help me. Everyone just walking by.

When we lived in Astoria, there was this black man camped out outside the chinese take-out place who I gave money to sometimes. His hands were all messed up, fingers swollen and blistered. Claimed to be a veteran. Who knows. Jon and I would stop and talk a bit sometimes, give a few dollars. He was (probably still is) part of the neighborhood. Sometimes he had his girlfriend with hin. Money went for booze, I'm sure, but what the fuck. I've seen him order take-out, too. Some days, I confess, I walked home on the other side of the street.

The police once picked up my birth mother wearing nothing but a plastic garbage bag at the corner store. She told the cops, apparently, she had nothing clean to wear. I visited her on and off throughout the years at Bridgeport Mental Health, Newtown (a state psychiatric hospital now closed), group homes. Still worry sometimes I'll end up somewhere similar myself.
posted by Pips 07 August | 08:58
That's a dramatic story about your birth mother Pips. I can't imagine what that's like.
Mental health problems can be so sad.
posted by jouke 07 August | 14:50
Doohickie and jouke, you are good people.

"It's not much. Maybe it will help,"

Maybe it is something, though. Maybe sometimes it's good to be treated as a human who is worthy of loving actions.

And also, I think, it reaches inside us to remind us of who we are.
posted by mightshould 08 August | 05:11
Thanks, jouke-- yeah, it was a lot to deal with as a kid. I lived with my father and his wife since I was nine, but I always still visited my mother. It was hard not being able to help her more. By the time I was in college, she was more stable, though, with help from the state for housing and medical care. I know she did the best she could. She's gone almost twenty years now, but I still miss her. She had a wicked sense of humor.
posted by Pips 08 August | 18:48
Maybe it is something, though. Maybe sometimes it's good to be treated as a human who is worthy of loving actions.

I hoped it was something to her. I hoped it would be something to the guy in the wheelchair too, but he refused it. Whatever. But once I'd bought it, I hoped it would be something to someone.
posted by Doohickie 09 August | 22:49
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