Today I took the Red Line from Roosevelt to the 69th Street station. I have only taken the train sporadically within the past year. So there are some things I miss by taking a quick bus trip to my car, which I park in a nice neighborhood. One of those things is uncomfortable homeless encounters. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the new Robert DeNiro film, Being Flynn. It chronicles the homeless experience in a way I have never seen on film before. It is very raw and honest. Having recently viewed the film, combined with my natural empathetic personality, today's ride put something on my mind.
There was the usual car-hopping individuals selling any and everything. Although it's easy to ignore a sells pitch, I struggle almost every time from a moral standpoint, when I hear that pleading, whining unabashed cry for help. Especially when the person asks only for food. Today a man came to the car I was riding in and asked if we had food or water. My heart sank. Just as it is now while typing this. With no immediate response received, he asked for just 'a little money to get something to eat'. Finally a man gave him some loose change from his pocket and a woman gave him what appeared to be a leftover sandwich from her bag. The homeless man was genuinely appreciative. He thanked each. Then what happened next, broke my heart further. He proceeded to stand there, open the Italian beef sandwich and pull the meat out and eat it with vigor. He was indeed hungry. He kept eating and finally moved on to the next car.
I had no cash money, only pennies and random coins that were spread throughout the bottom of my oversized purse, which would have been a pain rounding up. I had no food. The bottle of water I had in my purse, I had already opened it and drank out of it. I have been battling a sinus infection. I would hate to give him my heebee jeebees. The man has no insurance, so I know that would be a pain. Yes, those were my lame-ass excuses. So I offered nothing. I felt totally helpless and guilty. What I hate and love, is that those feelings never seem to go away. I hate it, because guilt sucks. I love it, because hopefully that gut feeling will keep my grateful. It will keep my desire to help others fresh. It will remind me to consciously thank God for my life. As I sit here and type this post, I am full. Maybe a bit stuffed. I overindulged on some hand cut, homemade fries that I made. They were good, but did I need those last five? The man who gave loose change turned around in his seat for whatever reason. We locked eyes. I do not know what he was thinking; but the look he gave me was the kind of blank stare that makes me search my soul.