Our eyes meet. It was brief, like the shutter’s snapshot, only an instant, seconds, a moment. Humanity. He stood on the island median, cardboard sign in hand, Homeless. Please help me. Disheveled and not in the contrived careless style of today’s fashions. Authentic disheveled. The jacket just slightly too large, the pants too loose. The hair, shaggy and layered, time between cuts. The skin, weathered, lined, tanned from the elements. The features, tight, eyes averted, head tipped down to avoid a passerby’s direct gaze. Shame.
The stoplight red, a pause, time to consider. Should I help him? It’s so easy to dismiss, avert my eyes, look away, and drive away. Still, consider that it could be you. Who chooses to stand and beg like this? Lazy, Crackie, substance abuser, mental illness, the stigmas, text bubbles in my brain. Still, consider that this could be you. Perhaps, someone you loved? The perilous line that separates us, thin and wavering between the fall to Dependence or Independence, Pass to Fail, Sane to Insane. Do we really get to decide our fate? The child born into dysfunction and pain, what are the life chances for success? The child born into love and functioning caregivers, is that child more worthy than one without? Obstacles, in circumstances, one to continuously climb over, the other to crawl through. Who chooses their parents? The chances good, that if I could sit and ask his life story, it would be full of sad memories, broken dreams, a broken heart. Drifting through life.
I found four quarters in my wallet. “It’s all I have.” “God, bless you, dear,” were the words he spoke. “God bless you, too,” I replied. Our eyes meet. Eyes blue. Cerulean. Quickly, we parted. It was brief, like the shutter’s snapshot, only an instant, a moment. Humanity.