Today I am making my way to the ‘burbs to watch the Blackhawks game with my father; he lives 30 minutes outside the city in a cute, but extremely white, yuppie town. Despite running almost 4 city blocks, which any Chicagoan knows is fucking exhausting, I still missed my damn train. It was literally pulling out of the station as I walked up to it. I was irritated but also pleased because this gave me a chance to smoke a bowl. As I walked out of the train station I was noticed a young man in a black, knit Blackhawks beanie, I was about to compliment his hat when he approached me and spoke, rather kindly:
"Excuse me, mam I’m homeless and I’m really hungry. I need $20 more to get into the place I’m trying to stay tonight. Do you have any food or anything?"
Now, my guard is always up around strangers but I will admit to being an extremely trusting individual. I looked him up and down and felt my heart break a little bit. “Yeah man, I got you. I don’t have any food but I’ve got some cash. I’ve been there I know how it is.” And I handed him $2. He smiled and said thank you, and I apologized that I couldn’t help more. He started to walk away when I had an idea. “Hey, do you smoke weed man? I was about to roast a bowl.” He said hell yeah he did and I told him to follow me around the corner of this restaurant I used to work at. (Now, this is a busy place, so don’t think I just went off to some secluded area with a stranger, I’m not a fucking moron) I told him to go ahead and cheef it for a bit and we started talking about the struggle, how people stop treating you like a person when you’re homeless; he told me people have spit on him before. He also told me that black and Hispanic people are the most generous towards him, he said white people ignore him. He said he has been sleeping on Lower Wacker (which had a pretty steady homeless population) and has frostbite in his foot; I noticed that he had been walking with a slight limp earlier. I empathized with him, sharing my own stories of homeless and how I know what it’s like to have nothing and be nothing. We discussed the economy and how our generation had been handed a shit deal. I kept looking him up and down, thinking how everyone that passed us on the street was just a left turn or two away from being in his shoes. He told me even though he was homeless he was grateful for what he had. I gave him $5 and wrote my number on the back of a card and gave it to him. I told him I was planning on cleaning out my closet soon. I told him if it ever got really bad and he was starving to call. He said he would and when I asked him his name again he said “It’s Shaggy, like from Scooby Doo,” and then he limped away. I don’t know that he will ever call, for all I know he will take that $7 and shoot it into his veins, chuckling at what a sap I am. But today I chose to bet on humanity instead of being such a cynical asshole and I was reminded of just how easy it is to tumble into the void.