A homeless man's point of view
My name is Benjamin.
I guess to most folks i'm a nobody. I'm just a face they see sometimes on their way to and from here or there. I don't know exactly what they see when they look at my face. They call me a bum and tell me that i should get a job. They say i need to get off the street and live a 'normal' life. They say that my life doesn't have to be this way and i wonder...what do they know?
Why, i stood in front of a busy restaurant the other day. One of those fast food places. See, i had me a stack of these newspapers that a fellow gives me to sell. They cost a dollar and i get twenty five cents for every one that somebody buys. Place was real busy and i thought maybe i could make a couple dollars. Maybe at least enough to get me one of those fancy hot sandwiches everybody was buying. They smelled real good.
The newspapers are actually kinda interesting, full of local news and funny pages
and a place for folks to comment on anything they wanted to. Why, they even had a few pages just for folk to send their poetry or their short stories. I read them. Yes i can read. You might be surprised to know that i am an educated man. That's right.
But back at that fast food place, i stood out on the street where i could hold my papers up
for folks to see them. Thought maybe as they were leaving they might have a little change in their pockets to trade for something to read while they ate their meal.
Now, believe me please i'm not complaining. I know folks got their own worries and i don't need to be adding to them. I stood there about three hours and sold six papers. Probably a hundred or more cars passed by me. I'm not saying 'bout how i only sold six papers. I mean i made me a dollar and a half. Bought me one of those items from the dollar menu and i was just fine.
No, what i'm saying 'bout is the things some of them say to me. Most of them look the other
way or pretend to be busy with something and they just ignore me. But there was some who were mean and i wonder, what did i do to them ?
They're the ones who say i am a bum. They i say i need to get a job and i ask myself...
don't i have a job ? I'm out there tryin to sell papers, trying to get some money for some food. I'm not trying to steal or beg.
Sometimes, every one in a thousand, a kind soul gives me a five and says keep the change. Makes me feel terrible guilty. I try to give them their change, they just won't take it.
I know there are good folks in this world Maybe we all are good. Maybe some of us are just misguided. Like the ones tellin me to get a job.
Am i wrong? Don't i have a job ? Maybe not as good as some, but i'm doin something. Right?
Why, just yesterday i was walkin back from the park and i saw this fella standin on a corner with a sign. says ' will work for food". ' Course, he got no work. But least ways he was tryin. Folks said the same mean things to him they said to me.
All i had was a quarter. I gave it to him and i felt down right sorry cause that was all i had to give Sure wish i had more.
...they tell me i'm homeless. Guys come around sometimes and ask me to come down to the shelter. Say i need a warm bed and a roof to keep out of the weather. But i got me a home. See it over there behind that dumpster? Lots of cardboard and old blankets. Its comfortable. Got everything i need. Got my books and my shoes and this here coat i done had for ten years. Still fits me pretty good. Dontcha think? Wife gave this to me. Last christmas we had together before she went to heaven.
Anyways i tell them people i got all i need. I got a home. Might not be as good as some, but least for now it's mine. They give me new blankets and new coats and socks and other under the outer things. I mostly give them to people who need them more than me. You know, there's always somebody needs something more than me. I know that. Besides, my home is meek and humble and only has enough room for a few things. I dont want it all cluttered up with stuff i don't need. So i pass it on to the next one who don't have nothing.
Why, some folks out here don't have a home. They sleep on the park benches or just out on the sidewalk under cardboard and plastic between dark and light. Me, i got me a place right there behind that dumpster. Even got to know the guy that empties it
pretty good. He always leaves me enough space between the dumpster and the back of
that building so i can live there without worry. Dumpster has a plastic top on it. When it rains or snows, why i just pull over that top so it covers me and just like that i got a nice roof over my head. I got a roof and a wall and a cardboard floor. Ain't that a home?
Is to me.
Dumpster guy, his name is Ed, he got five children. Yeah, and all of them little ones. Boy, he got his hands full don't he? Says he actually cant afford for his wife to work. Cost too much for daycare or a sitter. So, she stays with the children all day and takes good care of Ed and the little ones. Ed, he always smiles when he talks about them. Always has something new to tell me that one of them went and did or learned to say . Ed's a good man and i am thankful for the goodness in his heart.
Sometimes folks throw away some pretty good things in that dumpster. Stuff like perfectly good lamps or toasters or radios and such. Ed always looks in there before he
turns it over and if there's anything good, why he gives it to me. I won't get it out myself, heck i don't even look in there. I figure it don't belong to me and it would be kinda like stealing, wouldn't it? But Ed, he says that when somebody puts it in there, they give it away. and so he gives it to me.
I still feel a little guilty 'about accepting the stuff. Can't really say why cause i don't really understand. Guess i don't like to take things i didn't earn. So i take the stuff down to the bargain center and sell it to them. There's some good folks there. They give me a fair price and i am thankful for the goodness in their hearts. I take half the money and buy myself food and deodorant and toothpaste, you know, the usual. The other half of the money i take and put in the mailbox of that church you see across the street there. I like to give back to the Lord. He sure has been good to me.
I sit here every sunday like this just waiting for the people to come to receive their blessings and give thanks. Still a little early yet, but they'll be along soon.
...you see these hands here? Clean. Dicha notice my clothes are clean? And my
hair? Clean. Not just today. Everyday. I don't forget what our mothers and the Good Lord teaches us. ' Cleanliness is next to Godliness.' I know you musta heard that one before. Heck, hadn't everybody and his cousin?
I learned that well from my momma. Far back as i could remember she was teachin us kids 'bout the Lord. She taught us that it was just fine to get dirty everyday just as long as we cleaned our selves every night before we said our thank you's to God. My momma was a good woman and i am very thankful for the goodness in her heart.
Every night 'bout one a m i go down to the quickie mart. There's this young lady works
in there during the late shift. She works there all alone and i kinda worry 'bout her. so
i go down and just hang around to make sure she don't get robbed or something.I sweep the floors for her and take out the trash and she lets me wash up in the bathroom.
I bring my soap and toothpaste and wash up. I bring clean clothes and wash the dirty ones.Then i clean the bathroom real good cause of course my momma taught me my manners.
See, i am still clean when i say my good night thank you's to God.
The girl , her name is Jessie. She has a little girl named Sarah. She shows me new pictures of her all time. Says little Sarah is growing like a rose . She tucks her child in every night, then she tells her a story and waits until she is asleep before Jessie leaves for work. She says Sarah is the breath in her life and that she knows she probably spoils her but Sarah is all she has left. Her husband died two years ago. He was a fireman and he died trying to save a child that wasn't his child. He left her alone with young Sarah. So she had to move in with her mom and take this third shift job because it was all that she could find. She tries to give me candy bars and stuff, but i won't take them cause i know she has to pay for them. I tell her letting me wash up is more than i could ask. Besides, i like to work. I' m happy she let's me do it. Jessie is a good young lady and i am thankful
for the goodness in her heart.
And you know, sometimes you just cant help but be surprised and even changed by the things that you see and learn. Am i wrong ? Seems to me that you never really know whats waitin or comin 'round that next corner. Maybe we shouldn't be afraid of it, though. Maybe we should be excited by it. Ain't there always somethin new to learn?
i mean, are you satisfied with what you already know.?
Maybe we all make our choices in this life. We could choose to stand still. Or we could choose to keep moving. When my wife died , i thought about it and i made a choice and i chose to be here. i couldn't stay where i was at and i couldn't go back, so i moved forward. i moved here.
I found more good people. You see, there are good people in this world. i believe that...good people know each other and they find each other. Good people never forget where they've been or where they are or that 'cept for the grace of God go i'...oh yeah...there's still some good in this beautiful world. Guess maybe it depends on what you're looking at and maybe how you're lookin at it. Maybe we don't even know it till we see it .Maybe the greatest treasures in life have to be searched for. I dunno. Just seems that way to me.
... guess you can maybe see that i'm especially clean today, cant you? ''course i am. Today's Sunday. Special day ain't it? Least ways it is for me.Sure i missed my share of visiting with the Lord when i was as young as you, but we grow and we learn and we know what's important in life. You are not wise until you understand that God is God .
God is good and i am thankful for the goodness in His heart.
Yeah, i used a little extra care combing my hair this mornin. Made sure my boots are tied and my fly is zipped. Wouldnt that just be embarrassing? I dragged out these two chairs so we could sit here facing God's house. Heck, i know they're hard old fold up chairs, but believe me please i am thankful for them.
'course i'm thankful everyday and i talk to the Lord 'bout it. I ask God to bless each day and give thanks to him each night that he answers my prayers. But you know, seems to me maybe we should give back in some way. Every day. Just like He does for us. I dont really know how yet . Guess i'm still learnin .
Every Sunday. Rain ,snow , or sunshine, I sit here and watch those people go in that church. i come to recognize their faces. Some of them truly do have the shine of the Lord on them. Most of them seem to be happy, at least for now. None of them have ever invited me to join them inside.
Oh i aint sayin nothin 'bout it. Look at me. Maybe i ain't good enough to be in a fancy house of God.. Maybe that they can only fit a certain number of folks in there. i don't know, i aint never seen inside.Maybe they're just too busy to walk overhere and talk.
i watch them in a hurry to get to the church steps and once they get there, they just
seem to hang around for a moment while they greet each other before they move inside.
Some of them look at me sometimes and wave as if in a silent hello. Some of them look away. None of them has spoken to me.
see? they barely look at you.
Oh i aint sayin nothin 'bout it. MY clothes might be clean but they are a little old.
Maybe they think i don't look dressed for church or maybe even that i don't want to go.
I would ask, but it's almost like inviting yourself to somebody else's party ain't it?
i mean, i think maybe God don't really care that my clothes are a little old or that
i don't have a fancy car to drive when i visit him or even that their skin is black and
mine is white, i just think maybe the important thing is to visit with God.
i think maybe God knows a good person and that He is thankful for the goodness in their hearts.