Friday, August 10, 2012

True Enough

These days the downtrodden God-Bless-You boys work the stoplights at the 46th Street freeway ramps in shifts. There are, most days, guys at the ramps on both sides of the overpass, holding down every possible point of access to motorists. There's also always a gaggle of characters waiting on the sidelines, so to speak, sitting in the grass along the concrete freeway barrier or on the sidewalk just around the corner. It's like pick-up basketball for the homeless.

You tend to see the same characters every day. I suspect they all use each other's signs. "Stranded," one says, and nothing else. There's the standard, "Homeless. Please Help. God Bless." And: "Homeless Veteran. God Bless America."

I also saw this virtuous variant last week: "I'M JUST TRYING TO GET BACK ON MY FEET!"

"Three Children In Texas" seemed to strike an odd note, and I was uncertain whether the appropriate reaction was sympathy or scorn. I do feel sympathy, or rather compassion, for all of them, especially now that there seem to be more of them every day. My rule of thumb is that if one of them catches me at a red light I give him a buck. I know there are those who find this foolhardy and even irresponsible for all sorts of reasons, some of which I can understand.  Still, the recipients of my token offerings have always been unfailingly polite.

A couple days ago, in the rain, I saw a motorist hand one of them a pizza box through a car window, and yesterday, as I waited at the stoplight there was a guy who was holding an entirely blank piece of cardboard.

"What's your sign say?" I asked.

"You know what it says," he said, without the slightest hint of hostility. 

The man was, of course, absolutely right.


  1. I look at them because they are my people, and I swore I would not forget who I am. I like that you look at them, at us, too.

  2. Great story, Brad. Thanks for sharing.