Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't Judge Me

There have been several discussions here lately about homeless people and/or people begging for money and how to handle the situations. My Buddy Ron over at Vent wrote an excellent post he calls Street Smart and Peg over at Square Peg In A Round Hole also wrote one I really enjoyed she calls Johnny On “The Spot”, if you have not read these then in my opinion it is well worth your time to give them a read.

People on the street whether by choice or not we have seen all of our lives, the first one I recall was a lady we called “Hubba Hubba” when we were kids, she was always walking the streets picking up whatever caught her eye and would really give you a good cussing if you yelled Hubba Hubba, she would come into our yards and go through the trash cans taking the aluminum cans with her, so it appears back in the seventies she was ahead of her time recycling when most people were not, she actually made the news last year when people noticed she was not around and began looking for her, it appears she was never homeless and has a family who loves her, she lost her mind they say at the death of her husband and would leave her house every morning and walk all over town, thirty something years later she is a local icon and when she fell down and hurt herself she stopped walking and was missed, the local news featured a story on her and someone started a facebook page in her honor, at last word she is doing fine and has more facebook friends than I ever will, her name is Frances by the way and the nickname Hubba Hubba is one she hates but will always be with her.

Diesel was the nickname of a man who lived on the streets and slept wherever he laid down at night, this man was well known and scared a whole lot of people in the town we lived in New Mexico, he was a large black man and the nickname came because people said he was black as diesel, most people were scared when they saw him appear unexpectedly and others were scared out of their wits when they opened the dumpster to throw out the trash and woke him from his slumber inside the dumpster, when I was working I would run into him all over town, “Hello Mr. Water Man” was always the greeting I would hear, I would reply “How ya doing Diesel” and sometimes we would talk for a minute and others that was the extent of the conversation, the first of every month he would be lying behind the library sleeping on the ground with a couple of empty wine bottles at his side, even in this state he would mumble “Hello Mr. Water Man” as I went by, Diesel died one winter night in an abandoned house when it caught fire and burned with him inside, the fire was started by him trying to keep himself warm. Diesel it turns out was a Vietnam Vet and had a pension check direct deposited in a local bank, he had no home or children, he had a Brother who lived in town who had nothing to do with him but from what I know there was no reason for him to be on the streets other than it was his own choice.

Crazy Mary was another who roamed the alleyways and dug through the dumpsters eating what she found, she would come up and attempt to talk with everyone she saw asking for a cigarette and wanting to check your pulse, she obviously had some mental problems and I am sure was once a productive member of society, Mary Alice was another who was all over the place begging for money and another we called the can lady had a bag full of canned goods which she would carry all over town stopping at random times to take them out of her bag and stack them in different ways, count them and restack them at the end of her ritual she would place them all back into her bag and continue her walk wherever she was going which no one ever knew, if you wanted a good cussing just speak to her or honk your horn when she walked out in front of you, one of our meter readers thought it was funny to get her cussing and made a cross sign with his fingers at her one day, after reading the water meters for the day I picked him up to drive him back to where his truck was parked, standing by his truck was the can lady, there were canned goods stacked in a circle around his truck and she was shaking her fingers toward his truck and chanting while she was dancing around it, she looked over and saw Mark getting out of my truck and started the chanting and dancing in his direction, I had to drive the boy back to the office because he refused to get into his company truck, he now had a Hex placed on him and never made fun of this lady again.

While on vacation Cindy and I stopped at Jerry’s Restaurant in Holbrook, AZ a few years back, it was raining really hard and the thunder and lightening was so bright and loud it was kind of scary, we got seated and ordered our meals when this scraggly looking man came in with a backpack, he was soaking wet and looked really embarrassed, he took a seat and asked for a cup of coffee, the waitress brought him a cup and a menu, he took a sip and she asked if he was ordering, he said No I wont be ordering because I have no money, she picked the menu up and turned to walk away, what really got to me was when she had made a couple steps then turned back around and removed the cup of coffee from this man’s hands, I told her that she would be returning this man’s coffee to him and also a menu, and she would tell him to order himself a meal and to place his order on my bill, she looked at me as if I were out of my mind and asked who was she to tell him was paying the bill, I told her to not mention who was paying the bill because he was already humiliated enough by her actions, the man was eating a sandwich and drinking his coffee when we left the restaurant, I know in my heart he was coming inside to get out of the rain and most likely had enough money to pay for the coffee, he was living on the street and most likely needed a meal but not to be humiliated as he was not bothering anyone.

There are a lot of people in this world who are right where they want to be, whether this is on the path to success or on the street sleeping in a dumpster to get out of the weather, there are a lot of people who can’t help where they are because circumstances have dictated the outcome, these circumstances may be the loss of a job and home, the loss of a spouse and family, or the loss of your mind taking you wondering aimlessly around looking for someone to talk to. Some are on the corner begging for money because they are too lazy to work and others are there because they have no other choice and desperately want to be anywhere but here. I have seen a lot of people with a cardboard sign stating Will Work For Food, others say they need gas money to continue on their quest to wherever, and a lot of these people are right there every single day.

In my opinion we have way too many people on the street, a lot really need help and it is hard to figure which ones really need help and which ones are there because this is what they have chosen and money is the least of their worries, there are others who are there because they are parasites and will aggressively chase you down trying to scare you into giving them money. We are forced to choose who to ignore and who to help, there is no answer in how to figure this out and my only advice is to go with your gut and help those who touch your heart in some way or another, don’t ever judge those on the street because it is not up to us to pass judgment, everyone of these people have a story and no matter what this story is its what got them to where they are right now, some of the stories are pretty interesting if you have time to stop and actually listen to the ones who really need you.

11 comments:

  1. Outstanding post, Jimmy! And so eloquently said.

    You summed it up perfectly (also the way I feel), in saying....

    "my only advice is to go with your gut and help those who touch your heart in some way or another."

    You're compassionate soul is quite evident in your gracious gesture to pay for the man's food in the restaurant.

    "some of the stories are pretty interesting if you have time to stop and actually listen to the ones who really need you."

    Amen!

    Thanks for sharing, my friend! Thoroughly enjoyed.

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  2. Thank You Ron, I am honored by your kind words and friendship Buddy.

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  3. Hi Jimmy...I am back from my trip and now I must catch up on all the posts by my favorite. Tim has taught me to always give something to people on the street begging. He has always said that if a man has to beg for something he must really need it. I do believe like you that everyone has something interesting to say and also have amazing life stories. As usual, your post shows your innate kindness. If you have a chance let me know if you can see my newly posted blog. It doesn't seem to show up and of course I look to you for the solution to my blog problems.

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  4. Hey Susie, So glad to see you home and I look forward to getting caught up with you, Yes I got to your blog post with no problem, not sure why it's not showing up right away, blogger has been strange lately not sure why.

    I agree everyone does have something interesting to say, too bad most don't get a chance to say it.

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  5. I can't tell the difference between the scammers and the people who truly need help. So I tend to "error" on the side of taking the high ground. There are folks out there who truly need help. Not so much because they are poor, but because they are poor and mentally ill. If I give money to a scammer now and then by mistake, I'm more than willing to do so.

    I've been brutally poor as a child and I know how it feels to go without food and other basics. So If I give money to a lot of folks who appear to be down on their luck, and some of them get over on me, I don't care...

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  6. I see your point, Jimmy.
    Hard to tell which of the beggars are really in need, and which ones are tricksters. Jesus said to give to all who ask, so I don't make judgement. If someone asks me for a buck, if I have it, I give it to them.

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  7. I live in a tiny town of 2,000 people, and although we have our "characters", only once have I ever known a tramp here. This young guy lived under our bridge for a few weeks a couple of years ago, but he was always well spoken and polite. He never went into a shop but would stand in the doorway and ask if he could have a glass of water or if our local sandwich shop were throwing out out-of-date sandwiches.
    This guy was well educated, and no one ever knew why he was doing this. It turned out that out local vicar got talking to him one hot Summer day, and this guy was just following his dream during a gap year from Uni.
    His aim was to visit as many places as he could simply to see how people treat homeless people.
    No one was ever scared of him, he was just an ordinary guy doing what he wanted to do and living as a "Free-gian", and that was all he wanted.
    After a couple of weeks, he moved on to another town, but sometimes I wonder if he ever achieved his dream, or why he was doing it.
    It takes all sorts to make a world, and they all have their reasons. Sometimes they make it, sometimes they loose it, but I still sometimes wonder what became of him.

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  8. Jimmy--I loved this post. So often we pass by people like this and never look them in the eye or even consider their circumstances. I believe what they really want is for us to see their human nature. Some of my students have interviewed homeless people and have come away with a new view on life. Your compassion comes though here both in your actions and your words. Lovely, lovely post.

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  9. Amen Pat, I like what you said here my Friend, I never actually lived on the street but have sat and wondered where my next meal was coming from and you taking the higher ground to make sure you are helping others makes me so proud to know you.

    Hey Joe, As with Pat I too am proud of your opinion here “If someone asks me for a buck, if I have it, I give it to them.” It’s better to let someone get over on you once in a while when you know you are helping someone who actually needs it more times than not, I’d hate to walk away from someone knowing I could have helped and didn’t, too bad the tricksters are making it hard on the needy.

    Alice, The majority of people I have visited with in these situations are very polite and more than you realize are well educated, I wonder if this young man ever finished his research or if he is still living on the streets.

    Thank You Betty, Excellent project for students to interview the homeless, I feel this is an important part of educating our kids because they just may figure a way to help someone.

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  10. First, thanks for the shout out. Second, I am so happy to have made your acquaintance on here and call you my friend. You (and Cindy) make me proud that I know people like you (and I do feel like I know you). I have had people tell me I am too naive and a sucker but I'd rather be naive and a sucker and help someone who needs it than be a bitter greedy cynic. We are all God's creatures. Some just need more help than others.

    Wonderful wonderful post my friend.

    {{{Jimmy and Cindy}}}

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  11. Bravo! I love this post! As having been homeless for a brief week it was the scariest time and yet the generousity was overwhelming. It is hard to know who is really in need, I meet many that actually enjoyed living on the streets and yet many who had mental issues. Like you said you just gotta go with your heart. Love it!

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