Last week, I went out for a haircut appointment. It was a three-block walk in the pouring rain. On the way I passed a homeless guy sitting in a wheelchair, his wheelie suitcase nearby, under the eave of a commercial building.
When I walked home, the guy still was sitting there and the rain had calmed down a bit, but the weather was still wet and cold.
I don’t give money to homeless people anymore, but I try not to be a complete jerk.
So I went into a liquor store and bought a pre-made turkey sandwich. Then I went across the street to the library branch and located its entrance ramp. I went inside the library and told a clerk I was going to bring a wet homeless guy in his wheelchair inside. I said that I hoped there would be no objection if the poor guy quietly consumed his sandwich in the food-free zone. She snarled a little, but finally nodded.
Then I took the sandwich to the homeless guy and offered to push him to the library. No, he said, he wasn’t wet and preferred to sit where he was. Then he gave me his life story, including his extensive experiences with Buddhist groups and reincarnation, his disappointments with the local Catholic charities homeless program and his participation in film productions at the local universities, UCLA and USC. Plus a lot more.
Maybe he needed to talk for 45 minutes, but I wanted to go home and put on some dry shoes. Finally I bade him adieu and offered my best wishes.
Today I walked to the Whole Foods store to buy dinner provisions.
On my way home, I passed the same same homeless man walking the other way. He was pushing his wheelchair with his wheelie suitcase in it, and he was wearing the same pair of oddly decorated headphones he had been wearing when I gave him the sandwich.
He didn’t recognize me, which probably was just as well.
Sometimes I feel like a sucker.