102. Did I miss a meeting?


Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

 The other day I was walking to work, it was a nice crisp day out and having my travel mug of coffee from Books a Million (Starbucks is on my boycott list), my local backpack that looks like a book bag (not my massive carrying my house model), I was off in la la land thinking of a multitude of things including that I was going to be late for work, the water in the bird feeders was frozen and caused me to think of other homeless veterans, and a discussion I had with another writer about how all homeless are considered bums. My stroll is only a little over two miles and has a pleasant mix of a Country Club that has hosted PGA events and seen on the Golf Channel, homes worth a couple of million, a mini preserved wetlands area for the rich(I guess after filling in the whole wetlands thing for the golf club they might have ran out of fill dirt), and a field that I cut across heading into work.

As I was observing the new security cameras that were installed in this community (naturally I wave at them) I heard a voice saying “you need a ride?” I turned and looked and there was a teenager driving a small green car. Personally I was so far away mentally, it took me a while for my brain to process that this kid had passed me about 3 to 4 minutes before and had turned around to check on me and my walking. I said “no thank you” that I was ok and like to walk (which I do) and to think (sometimes I forget what I was thinking and have lost many articles this way). I was actually stunned by this teenager and made a note of it in my journal as I was refilling my coffee mug at the local convenience store along the route I take.

This morning, I was walking to work again, and this time a another gentleman stopped and asked if I needed a lift. Personally I was starting to get a complex about this. I was being offered rides and stopped by strangers at exactly the same location in two days. I started to check my appearance. I am dressed in clean clothes that are not rags, I am shaved and well groomed. I was having a coffee and was talking to a friend on the phone. I felt like I was camouflaged pretty well, and not flashing a sign saying “I AM HOMELESS”.

Now I am on my feet all day moving furniture manually (that is with my hands and arms for those needing explanation) from one place to another and loading it for delivery. I have coveralls that protect my clothes but after this happening twice I went to the mens room to make sure I was not covered in some filth unknowingly. I looked at my face to see what look was on my visage and thought “damn your one good looking guy!.”  Ok now I knew I looked all right. No signs of distress. I am wondering when I am concentrating on things if I get a look that is making people stop to check on me. As I was moving my furniture from point A to point B and sometimes C, I was thinking about things like the episode with Sonny Iovino in Iowa City, IA and the article assistance I had asked for from AnAmerican (killer article and I applaud AnAmerican for that piece on schizophrenia), a new one person three season tent I had been eyeing at a  sporting goods shop (been waiting on that huge price drop), thinking of the laptop as it is getting old and makes all sort of new grinding noises, slow booting and dreading having to buy a new one after 5 years, wanting another cup of coffee, and why was this day of all days was passing so slowly.

It hit me like a slap in the face. I was and am the only person I ever see going to or coming from that route. There are no trails or sidewalks on this route. The fact that I am passing through a decently upscale area without a vehicle, and it is over a mile from the nearest bus stop had and has me as noticeable as the proverbial fart in church. This neighborhood views people walking very warily. I began to realize that the people here pay to walk at their local health clubs. Being on foot wandering through that area it is a wonder their Rent-a-Cops manning their security gate has not notified the authorities about my criminal walking behavior. I stick out because I am afoot and never realized that I was and still am sticking out because of that.

It is especially odd to me  that I am being offered those rides from these people . In these neighborhoods, a Lexus is considered tolerable….just. Did I miss a meeting on New Years where the world pledged to be a kinder gentler place? Does lightning strike the same spot two days in a row? Actually,I am befuddled by these random acts of kindness . I think of all of the times I was along an interstate on ramp trying to get a ride while “flying” a sign with no luck, and BANG now I am having to beg off rides.

I could only hope that this New Year of 2008 has brought changes in the hearts of others. Everyday is a surprise and being able to view it and live it is a wonderful experience. I feel fortunate that I am even able to write about it. Even the bad things are good experiences because I have learned from them greatly and use those lessons in dealing with the world which many find ourselves. I have heard stories of how people that have read this site are viewing the homeless differently, I admit that I have never felt that I have done anything to change peoples views other than showing others that there is a different side of homelessness, or at least reporting on the everyday mis-adventures I have now found myself in or issues that have especially touched me and make me and this site what it is now.

Sometimes I wonder about random acts of kindness. The random acts I have experienced might not have been random for the Samaritan giving kindness. I have learned that there are just people out there that are naturally kind and have compassion for their fellow man. Hopefully I can always be considered one of those, as I like that view of myself and do try to be.

No I did not miss a meeting, I am just amazed by those events of kindness and compassion and fortunate to be able to tell others how important that they are from someone that has needed a boost before.


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3 Responses to “102. Did I miss a meeting?”

  1. January 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

    As someone who has been the recipient of numerous random acts of kindness in the last couple of years, I can tell you that – yes – there are people in this world of ours who are driven by something more noble than just a desire to do a “good deed.”

    There are those for whom doing something kind for someone else without the expectation of receiving anything in return is just a part of who they are. It is a part of the fabric of their hearts and souls.

    And, although they are few a far between sometimes, the quality and caliber of their character far outweighs the “quantity” of those who couldn’t care less.

  2. 2 Rich
    January 20, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I’m a vet. Not homeless, but sometimes I wonder if I couldn’t end up on the streets myself. I’m what you’d call an easy mark, as I always try to give something to those who are driven to to ask for help. I can easily imagine myself in their shoes. This world we live in makes us fear one another rather than attempt to understand those we do not know. I try to see through my fear and give something BECAUSE I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head and a full belly. I just wanted to drop a note to say thank you for helping me to know that what I’m doing – however little it is- is the right thing. I almost used an alias and a secondary e-mail- fear at work , again- but I decided to be open and honest as that is the kind of world in which I wish to live… Peace, Rich


    Even if you did not give or donate, showing compassion and recognition to those in need is a gift in itself.
    Thank You.


  3. 3 Jim
    March 24, 2008 at 3:44 am

    I used to do alot of hitch hiking in my younger days and I was amazed at the kindness youd find in total strangers. It seems like when I was broke, someone would come along and just before dropping me off, asked if I had any money. Naturally, the first couple of times the thought of getting rolled occured to me, but to my amazement..Id answer no and be handed a 5, 10, 20 and on one occassion a $50.00 dollar bill.
    Id offer to send it back, but the usual response way, “thats ok..just pass it on to someone else that needs it”. To this day, I do that if i can.

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