I had surgery 4 weeks ago tomorrow and although it was quite the bureaucratic nightmare, I am receiving short-term disability from the state. In other words, I’m off work and I’m getting paid. This may not seem like a big deal, but I am grateful beyond belief.
The only real physical therapy required for my recovery is walking and today I decided to step it up to 3 miles from 2. As I was on the last leg of the walk, I noticed a guy about 200 yards ahead of me crossing the freeway along the same path I was taking. I could tell from his gait and the heavy clothing he wore, that he was probably homeless. He stopped at the exit of a local shopping center and pulled out a tattered cardboard sign.
I passed within a foot or two of him as I traversed the crosswalk and couldn’t help but notice how the back of his neck looked like aged leather…this guy was younger than me…probably in his 30’s…maybe even younger. I considered asking him if he had any interest in going to a 12 step meeting with me but his vibe just didn’t exude the tell-tale signs that he was much of a drinker. He was just homeless.
Just homeless. I am grateful I have a job, for if not, I am a few months away of asking this guy where a good place to sleep is. My financial and family situation is such, that with the right combination of bad luck, my safety net is gone and I’m seeking shelter on the streets and that scares the hell out of me. It makes me think twice about the constant petty annoyances at work. It forces me to be an adult about my financial decisions (a bigger deal than one might think in my case) and it makes me guilty. Guilty because I never give money to the homeless.
I’m a big believer in tough love and not enabling someone who is sick. But maybe he isn’t sick, maybe he’s a guy who had the right combination of circumstances occur in his life. Maybe that dollar I give him isn’t going for booze or drugs. Maybe that guy is me.