‘Tis the season to be homeless, or so it seems. I’ll start by saying I’m ambivalent about homeless people. I really don’t think there is a solution to it, much less a solution to those that actually desire to be homeless and live off of charity. My reaction to homelessness would be, in D&D terms, chaotic neutral. but anyway, the stories…
Case 1: The GF and I are out driving and stop at an intersection. There is a woman wearing the standard-issue safety vest for panhandlers. Joking around, I commented, “nice butt,” the GF commented, “nice phone in the back pocket.” But joking aside, the GF is a lot more generous and tolerant of panhandlers than I. She will regularly offer a drink or a snack if she has one available. I infrequently do that.
Anyway, to get to the point, the woman turned around and it was a person that my GF knew from her job. Knew pretty well, in fact. That changed a lot and not in the way it might sound. This woman would show up nearly every day totally drunk and just be belligerent all day. This is not someone you want to give money to, because it goes to one thing.
Case 2: I’m pulling in to a restaurant for lunch and a vagrant is in the lot. I leave the car running and pretend to be busy with something inside. Undeterred, he comes over and is happily gesturing at my car. Yeah it’s a nice car. I give him a thumbs up through the window hoping he’ll continue on. Nope. He continues gesturing and finally I roll down my window.
The guy is deaf, for real or not. Signing some stuff, pointing and making noises. I have no idea what he wants. He eventually hands me a piece of paper with his pitch pre-written on it. He’s deaf; he can’t hear or understand what I say; he wants money for McDonalds. Sigh. I give him $5 and tell him to enjoy his meal. He seems extremely grateful.
Case 3: I’m leaving a restaurant and a guy is in the lot with a bike. “What kind of car is that?” “It’s a Miata.” “A what?” “A Miata.” “Hold on I can’t hear you.” He comes closer as I realize what I’ve gotten myself into. “A what?” “A Mee Ahh TA”. “Oh! That’s a beautiful car. Must be very expensive. Never seen one like that before.”
Trapped, I am. “I just want to fuckin’ say something. I want to fuckin’ thank you for acknowledging my existence. All these other people just fuckin’ fly away. They don’t even say anything.” And it goes on like that. It’s cold and drizzling outside and I’m not a fan of that situation either. So to end the conversation, I say “you know, you really need to find shelter.” And at that moment, I thought, “God damn it. Why did I have to say that.” I get more story, about his mom, who loves him. I see him trying to figure out how to use whatever I’ve said to work in some kind of pitch, a pitch that will be full of profanity, certainly. He points at an overpass and says how he has slept there for 5 days. (That’s his shelter, he says).
I figure, ok, we’re going to do this, huh? So I asked, “why do you do that?” He was caught off guard. I said, “I know there’s shelter here in town. Why don’t you go there?” Well, he had to think quickly for that. “eeehhhhh, those shelters…. they’re not… nice. They have bed bugs. It’s not good.” And I was getting ready to tell him it had to be better than a bridge when he commented, “he’s eyeing me up.” I asked, huh? and he said “the cop over there.” Then I hear behind my car, “Excuse me, would you mind coming over here and talking with me?”
The vagrant walks over and I shut my car. I’m going to take my opportunity to get out of this. I look in my mirror and no I’m not. I’m blocked in by the police. And… another car shows up. I catch little bits of their conversation: “You from around here?” “You have any weapons on you?” “You said some things that worry me. Are you going to get violent with me?” Oh boy.
So, the officers don’t find any reason to detain him and let him go. So I’m going to just finish this up and get home. I do the nice, dumb thing. As he walks by the car to get his bike, I offer him a can of Coke. I want that to be the end and I’ll go. Nope.
More conversation ensues. I finally tell him that he needs to clean up his presentation, stop swearing so much, and better things will happen to him. I have to put the car in gear and start moving for him to get the hint. I think he stroked the hood of my car as I backed away.
So there’s three recent interactions with the homeless and vagrant within a couple of weeks. Where it goes from here, I can’t be sure.