Robert Bush 8:35 a.m., May 25
When I see them asking for spare change, a part of me briefly gets angry. Some of them, I believe, really are homeless for a justifiable reason but it seems they’re not the ones asking for a handout. All the ones asking passersby for change are asking the wrong people, it seems; all the quiet ones have asked and been turned away by not only everyday people but agencies designed specifically to help. So why is there something inside me that clenches up every time I’m asked for spare change? Because I question the concept of “spare” anything.
I have made many mistakes in my life, and many of them are repeat offenders. In other words, I am not learning my lesson. I am paying the dividends for those mistakes even as I type this. I am short on my rent this month, is about to tip-toe through another month without paying a single bill (because I can’t), and constantly worried about how I’m going to feed myself, let alone my cat. So the idea of having anything to spare is not only impossible but both frustrating and laughable at the same time. The anger I feel when asked for spare change is partly borne out of this.
But this frustration is short-lived because once I take the second to become aware of who and where I am, I realize I am on a very thin line of becoming a similar casualty to the economic system myself, living on the streets and hoping some kind of agency can help me out. This saddens me. It motivates me but the overwhelming sense of pressure remains and eventually wins over until I find myself on the couch wondering what the hell is happening to me. I have my pity party and try to move on but the feeling lingers in the background. It’s the same feeling you get when you know you’re being watched.
I try to be kind in my reaction now to homeless people asking for spare change. I apologize, say I don’t have any, and try to keep the rising frustrations at bay. I do this now because life seems so fragile these days and tomorrow may not be as safe and secure as it feels now, which isn’t much. I would only hope if I were in their position that people would be kind to me, even if nothing more than a smile or warm gesture. I have my dreams and goals, and one day even hope to accomplish them, just as I’m sure everyone on the streets do or once did. Unfortunately I’m slowly losing my grip on them as each day unsparingly passes.
I wish I did have something to spare but, you see, I’m a lot closer to them than they may realize.