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Human on the Pavement


I really wanted to write a post about the numbers behind the homeless but I got so caught up in other aspects of Cards4aCause and life in general that I didn’t have time to research: what numbers are actually important and what are misguiding. So, hopefully, that’ll be up next week.

         However, this week I decided to write about a few experiences of mine that I hope can offer some insight into what it might be like to be homeless and how that can affect someone. To start, I want to say that I have never been homeless therefore I will not pretend to understand the effects of not having a home. I am only piecing together what I imagine, what I have learned and the small amount of understanding that I have gained. A friend of my recently moved into Boston: she was shocked the number of people that were suffering from homelessness. She is an extremely kind and empathetic person so I wasn’t surprised that it affected her. She was telling me how she started crying in public because she had come from a place where this wasn’t an apparent issue, therefore she was not enured to it. As a person who has lived in a city at least most of their life, I am shocked by the issue still, but I don’t break down. This was one of the experiences that made me understand one aspect of homelessness: how it looks from the outside. Coming from somewhere that didn’t have to deal with this issue can illuminate how drastic the situation is.

The second experience was when I had to ask for money from a stranger. I was stuck in Harvard Square, I needed to get to school and I didn’t have a ride or enough money for the T. I knew that asking someone was the best option. I was waiting around, trying to avoid that task when a young, well dressed woman came up to me. She asked me if I knew how to work the T system and I said yes. I also asked her for the quarter and she said yes in an instant. She even offered to give me more. This was the first time I ever had to ask for money from a stranger. Now, it worked out well for me but why? Did it help that I was a young, white teenager who was well enough dressed and knew how to work the system. If a person that was plagued with homelessness had come up to her and asked her if she needed help, what would she have said?  Of course, I don’t know this woman personally so I have no idea whether or not she would have said yes or no. But I do know that if a person who was homeless came up to me before I was educated on the issue, I might have denied their need for a quarter. Now, that is a hard pill to swallow but it is a true one. That taught me how hard it could be to put aside your pride and ask from money from a stranger who owes you nothing.

The third and final experience is all the times I walk by someone who is homeless and don’t give or forget to smile. We all can relate to this. Those times you forget that there’s a human sitting next to you on the pavement.