“homeless. laid-off. please help. god bless.”
his sign was ragged with big, black letters. he wore a scratchy beard, halfway between worn and weathered.
he was dressed in dirty khaki shorts, beaten work boots, a holey t-shirt.
and the sadness —
it swirled around him. cradled him. wrung him out and shook him down.
this street corner defined him. but it was not his whole world.
* * *
someone once told me that this man and others like him were just beggars. people exploiting other people to get a free ride.
a free ride.
it never seemed free to me.
i’ve seen the way people look at men like him.
or the way they turn their heads and pretend not to see him at all.
the thing is, this man makes them uncomfortable.
he is both desperate and hopeful.
sometimes that combination throws people into a whirlwind of emotions. and they avert their eyes.
we like to pretend we have every ounce of control over our own little spaces in the universe. we like to believe that we will never be on that street corner, holding that sign.
but there is no difference between me and him. you and me. him and you.
we are made up of the same matter, the same energy, the same emotional charges.
the line is thin.
and the sooner we realize this, the sooner our world becomes a place where men don’t carry ragged signs.