Homeless For Years, and No One Ever Knew It...
It's ice cold out today; today the temperature is in a single digit; it's so cold that my ears seem to catch fire, and my nose becomes numb in just seconds. Going outside for a smoke break is like torture to my body.
Whenever I'm outside, and the weather is this brutal, my thoughts always speak the same thing, 'Thank God I'm not homeless! Thank God I don't have to live in the subway, the woods, or the streets in garbage cans. Thank God warmth is only a few steps away in my cozy little office. Thank God.'
On cold days I think of homeless people more than I do on any other day. I think of how horrible it must be for them.
I think of how they are trying to cover their flesh with every used piece of clothing they have picked up along street sidewalks, or garbage bins, and I think that the cold air that whistles into the holes that these pieces of old faded fabric have, is by far the worst form of torture to them. I know, I personally could not handle it.
I never in my life though thought that homelessness would ever touch me, my family, or my loved ones.
For years I never knew that my uncle was homeless in the streets of the city for close to 2 years.
He kept it a secret, and we honestly didn't have a clue. He never hinted that he was homeless. He never asked for anything, he never even seemed to be in bad spirits. Yet for 2 years my uncle became part of the cities countless amount of homeless people.
He told us about his 2 years of living on the streets about a year ago. He kept it a secret because he was ashamed. He had too much pride to ask my mother for a place to live. It angers her now, because we had a spare room. Yet he never came out and asked for help.
He called us nearly every month, and we always assumed he was calling from his house. We never actually thought that he was using a phone booth.
We also never thought twice when he told us not to call, that he was changing his phone number nearly every month due to 'sleezy phone companies, and bad lines'. He always called us from a different number, so we never thought that the story he made up was a lie.
To me it's something I couldn't understand, and likely never will. But I imagine some people would rather battle the elements than ever dare ask for help.
When most folks think of homeless people, they imagine they are only living on the streets because they are crazy, on drugs, or that they are just lazy and refuse to work. Some people view them as a cities dirty plague.
My uncle though was neither. He was not crazy, he was not on drugs, and he would never be considered a dirty plague in my eyes.
He was not lazy. He managed to get to work everyday on time, while his homeless secret went unknown to even his fellow employees. He never begged for change, he never asked for a place to stay. He didn't hold signs begging for food. He had too much pride.
For 2 years though he worked, and saved money, and eventually had enough as to where he could rent his own small apartment. He lived in his apartment for a few years, and soon upgraded into a nicer place in Manhattan.
I guess I just felt like sharing this story to get a point across. If you see someone homeless this winter sleeping on a sidewalk or park bench, why not quietly add another blanket on top of him/her. I'm sure everyone has a spare blanket lying around the house. Why not give it to someone who really could use it?
If you are against giving money to the homeless, you could definitely spare a pair of old gloves, shoes, or clothes. Winter months are harsh, and such a small gesture could mean the world to someone. It could even mean life.
And you never know...one of your relatives may be out there, freezing in the cold; homeless, and you wouldn't even know it.