Being homeless gives a perspective unlike one obtained any other way. While that may seem like a “thank you captain obvious” statement, the lessons learned are more invaluable than any I’ve learned. Ever.
They say you learn who your true friends are when you’re down and out. Ain’t that the truth! You also learn pretty quick that there is a HUGE difference between family and “friends”. Now let me be fair… if I had been born and raised in a small town, borough, or neighborhood, and had lifelong friends, I most certainly would have experienced circumstances that would give me a different opinion. But that’s not my story. My story and my experiences give me a constant “outsider’s” POV.
For example, if money was stretched thin between paychecks, and you needed help purchasing some groceries or paying your cell phone bill, do you have a person you could depend on? A parent, best friend, grandparent, cousin etc? Are you that person for someone else? Ok, now remember that girl that moved to your town in 7th grade and awkwardly stuck around and hung out with some of the people you knew? You know the one. Her style was different, her hair was different, everything about her was, well, different. Unfamiliar. You eventually developed a sorta friendship with her and realized she was pretty cool and quirky and didn’t strive to fit in; just to be accepted as she was. Come to think of it, you’re friends on Facebook. Well imagine she sent you a message explaining things were very difficult at this time in her life and even though she knew it was completely out of line, she’s at her wit’s end and was desperately trying any damn thing she could think of, out of sheer survival, and could you please help her out with twenty bucks for some food? Would you even consider it? I mean, shit, she wasn’t in your kindergarten class, and had no idea that you had a horrible haircut in third grade that got you that nickname, or that the scar on your knee was because of a crazy bicycle accident that happened the summer before she came to your school. If you answered yes, you’re either a warm compassionate, helpful person with a beautiful heart, or a fucking liar! Ha!
The truth is, I’ve found that the majority of people I’ve come into contact with, lack integrity. My take on integrity is doing the right thing even when absolutely no one is watching or will know. Most people do “just enough” to not feel bad or to be off the hook of being heartless. Then others, gives reassurances, words of encouragement, and promises of intent to help, that don’t hold water. If you’re being 100% honest with yourself and recall a time or situation that you’ve done this and you’re wondering if the other person remembers it or if it impacted them at all… they do, it did. Without a doubt. Take it from me, and I’m nobody to you either way, that being in a position of vulnerability, humbling yourself to the point of embarrassment to put pride aside and ask for help or a handout, being promised assistance in some form or fashion, and then depending on that, only to be stood up, let down and in an even worse predicament than before the false hope… THAT IS THE WORST! It hardens soft hearts. It bitters sweet optimistic people. It depresses, saddens, and instills a lonely, untrusting, skeptical feeling in a person.
Don’t get me wrong now. I’m not saying that I feel that it was ever anyone’s true intentions to give hope or light to a situation under false pretenses. I’ve met very few truly evil vindictive people and believe me when I tell you, those individuals wouldn’t be so cunning. They deliver their darkness on black platters shrouded in very direct fuck yous and wishes of ill fortune. No shame in their game. I do, however, know this. The people who inadvertently shatter hopes and let down the ones they promised assistance to, have great big hearts, good intentions, and many many excuses.
“Oh I got a phone call from my aunt that she needed me to run to 7–11 for milk that she needed for her recipe. She’s 79 and can’t drive.” Or “I completely forgot that my husband had to have his suit ironed for his business trip.” Or “My phone died so I went home to charge it and got busy.” “Sorry.” “Sorry.” “Sorry.”
Hey homeless people’s attention gets diverted too. And I’m the number one advocate for encouraging people to try to view every situation from someone else’s perspective because we’re all so self involved. It’s a missing ingredient in the recipe of adulting. But on the flip side, give a freakin little bit of consideration to the human life that came to you with shame and tears in their eyes that you have promised, could do a load of laundry at your house, borrow twenty bucks, or that you could provide a ride to a job interview with a complimentary shower so they feel amazing walking in to their potential employer.
If things have changed and you can’t help them, go to them face to face and explain that your intentions were pure but circumstances have changed and you apologize. Grow a pair and give some respect my fellow humans. Respect goes a really long way and prevents the dehumanizing effect that excuses have on the weary.